Despite the media blitz last week by Augusta National chair Hootie Johnson, defending the exclusion of women from the club’s elite membership and insisting that there is a “difference” between racial and gender discrimination, two more groups this week joined the call for female members. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chair Julian Bond in a letter to the New York Times charged that golfers and businesses—through participation, sponsorship, and/or advertisement with Augusta—are “subsidiz[ing] and condon[ing] discrimination.” Likewise, Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Commissioner Ty Votaw—stressing the “public face of golf”—said including women members was “the right thing,” according to USA Today. Bond and Votaw are the latest among a group of prominent leaders, including Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive of American Express, Citigroup chair Sanford Weill and Lloyd Ward, head of the U.S. Olympic Committee and former president of Ford Motor Company, to openly express their support for including women.
Amidst the conflict, the press has also focused attention on Tiger Woods. A New York Times editorial on Monday pushed for Woods to boycott the prestigious Masters golf tournament and “send a powerful message that discrimination isn’t good for the golfing business.” To date, Woods has avoided taking sides.
Augusta National is the site of the Masters, an event sanctioned by the PGA Tour, though the PGA does not own or run the Masters. The National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), under the leadership of chair Martha Burk, argues that by sanctioning an event held at a club that practices such blatant discrimination, the PGA violates its own anti-discrimination policies.
Media Resources: NY Times 11/18/02, 11/21/02; Associated Press 11/19/02, 11/21/02; USA Today 11/21/02; Feminist Daily News Wire