After 80 years, women will finally be included on the membership roster of Augusta, one of the world’s most exclusive golf clubs, and the host of the prestigious Masters golf tournament. Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne announced today that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Moore have been invited to be the first female members of the club. They both accepted.
Augusta opened in December 1932 and is believed to have about 300 members, yet did not invite its first African-American member until 1990, when it extended an invitation to Ron Townsend. Women have been allowed to play on the course as guests, but they have never had the opportunity to become members.
"This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club," Payne said in a statement.
The two newest members are no strangers to old boys’ clubs. Rice, 57, was the national security adviser under former President George W. Bush and went on to become secretary of state in his second term. She was the first African-American woman to become Stanford provost in 1993. She is currently a professor of political economy at Stanford's Graduate School of Business.
Meanwhile, Moore, 58, rose to prominence with Chemical Bank in the 1980s when she became the highest-paid woman in the banking industry. She is vice president of Rainwater, Inc., and she was the first woman to be profiled on the cover of Fortune magazine. And she’s got just a bit of money to burn. In 1998, Moore made a $25 million contribution to the University of South Carolina, which renamed its business school after her, followed by a pledge of $45 million to the school in 2004. Last year, she pledged $5 million to the college for a new aerospace center, as well as a pledge in her father's name of $10 million to Clemson University.
As women are becoming increasingly powerful (consider the female-held CEO positions at IBM, HP, Xerox and Pepsi) did Augusta have much of a choice? As noted in The Daily Beast prior to the announcement, “If Augusta National clings to its no-estrogen policy, will it really be able to maintain its white-hot power status for much longer?”
Apparently, the club thought not.
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