Asked to Admit Women, Golf Club Goes ‘Ballistic'

(WOMENSENEWS)-The chair of the Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the prestigious Masters golf tournament every year, responded angrily to a suggestion that the club consider admitting women, saying “there may well come a day when women will be invited to join our membership, but that timetable will be ours, and not at the point of a bayonet.”

Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations and Women's Enews Advisory Board Member, wrote a private letter to William “Hootie” Johnson, urging him to admit women to the 300-member private club before next year's Masters Tournament in April.

Johnson responded publicly to Burk, stating that passages in her letter “make it abundantly clear that Augusta National Golf Club is being threatened with a public campaign designed to use economic pressure to achieve a goal” of the National Council of Women's Organizations. “We expect such a campaign would attempt to depict the members of our club as insensitive bigots,” he added.

Burk expressed surprise at Johnson's extreme reaction when interviewed by the New York Times.

“He obviously went ballistic,” said Burk.

“I thought the club was already leaning in the direction of adding women, and I thought that this could be a quiet discussion. Obviously, maybe we will have to consider some other avenues.”

The Augusta golf club says it has no restrictions based on gender, race, religion or national origin. The club has no women members and fewer than 10 African-Americans. Women are able to play at the club as guests of members.

Burk said the women's coalition, which is comprised of 160 member organizations, is considering their next step.

For more information:

Letter from the National Council of Women's
Organizations to the Augusta National Golf Club:
(Adobe PDF format)

Response from the Augusta National Golf Club:
(Adobe PDF format)

Press Release: “Statement By Hootie Johnson
By The Golf Central Newsroom - July 9, 2002″:
(Adobe PDF format)