COMMENTARY | Until August 20, 2012, parents of young daughters with dreams of becoming members at Augusta National Golf Club had to tell their girls it wasn't possible.
With the news that the 80-year-old home of The Masters Tournament accepted two female members, those same girls can now chase that dream should they choose to do so. Ironically, one of the fundamental issues with golf has been that it is still perceived as an elitist sport with little diversity.
In other words, how many little girls really dream of that scenario in the first place?
Golf Needs Women
It's a sad indictment on the state golf in the United States. In 2012, there are still socio-economic barriers that often intimidate half the country's population out of playing the game. When Augusta National hung on to its archaic way of thinking, it held the sport back with it.
Maybe the game can progress with the slow-moving historic club. The Masters is golf's most sacred event, and membership at Augusta National is the pride of the sport. It's a no-brainer that women should have been included as potential members all along. What took them so long?
Pride, stubbornness, and the off-putting elitist mentality that still costs the golf industry hundreds of thousands of potential rounds and dollars were the biggest culprits with respect to Augusta's decision to exclude female members.
Of more significance, however, are the women the club chose to blaze the trail.
Condoleezza Rice, the well-respected former Secretary of State can now add the title of "Pioneer Female Member" at Augusta National Golf Club. Rice is no stranger to being a pioneer -- she was also the first woman and first African American to become a Stanford provost, where she is a professor of political economy.
If her resume wasn't already impressive enough, Augusta National puts it over the top -- that's how prestigious the club's membership is.
Her counterpart, Darla Moore, is a South Carolina financier who is a close friend of former Augusta National Chairman Hootie Johnson. A well-known and respected executive, she had reportedly been considered for membership in prior years.
She, like Rice, is qualified to be a member based on merit alone. Because of her friendship to Johnson, it was important to the club to maintain the integrity of the membership process.
Current Augusta National chairman Billy Payne has done right by his club and the game of golf. It needs more female participation in order to thrive. Breaking down this barrier at Augusta is a major step in encouraging all of that to happen.
Perhaps now, those same little girls that watch The Masters on television can dream of donning their own green jackets one day. In a land of opportunity, that's all anyone, male or female - deserves.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the PGA TOUR and professional golf. He is a PGA professional and has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com. He is also the Editor of SportsOutWest.com. For more insight, follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.
- Sports & Recreation
- Augusta National Golf Club
- Condoleezza Rice