Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Jonathan Wall take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing email@example.com, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @jonathanrwall. Today, we offer the final word on this whole women-at-Augusta thing ... at least until next April.
Busbee: So Augusta is letting in women! Hallelujah, praise be! Or it's the end of civilization! One of the two. Hey, I think it's great from a progress perspective, but will it help Tiger Woods win another major? If not, who cares? Seriously ... your initial thoughts when you heard the ruling, sir?
Wall: Honestly, I'm still waiting for Billy Payne's follow-up press release where he says, "We were joking, guys!" After 80 years, it's still hard to believe the club caved and extended memberships to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore. Why? Because for the longest time, it felt like Augusta National would never change. Despite all the pressure, former chairman Hootie Johnson and current chairman Billy Payne remained steadfast in their decision to keep the club all-male. Then came the news on Monday that, gasp, Augusta National was turning into a 21st century club. I understand why everyone's excited -- it's a big deal when the most exclusive club on the planet allows its first female members -- but this is just a way for Augusta National to get rid of the gender equality cloud that's that's been hanging over the club for the last 10 years.
Busbee: But does it change anything? I honestly can't see that it does. Augusta will still have a rep of being hidebound and weighed down by "tradition." This is a nice gesture, yes, but that's all it is. Bigger question, I suppose, is: what will this usher in? Now that the seal has been broken on female members, what other traditions might change? Women can golf at Augusta, of course, but what about hosting a women's event there? Is that just too insane to hope for?
Wall: I agree. I don't think the decision to bring in two female members changes anything at Augusta. It will continue to operate as one of the most exclusive clubs in the country and still be a playground for the power players of the business world. With the exception of adding in a set of ladies tees at the club, I don't foresee chairman Billy Payne, or any other member at the club for that matter, change any of the traditions. This club is steeped in history; to believe the inclusion of two women would change anything would be foolish. As far as an LPGA event, the club recently partnered with R&A and Asia Pacific Golf Confederation to host an amateur event in China. I don't think that means Augusta is going to partner with the LPGA in the future, but it at least shows you they're willing to play ball with other organizations (even if the move was done to build a better relationship with a country that's booming with golfers at the moment).
Busbee: Long term, I wonder if this does much to help Augusta's reputation as a whole. I'm thinking that we're in such a transitional time that it'll be tough for anyone who's playing/watching golf right now to ever dissociate Augusta, and by association golf itself, from the Old Boys Network mentality. But by the time our daughters are ready to really play golf, this will be ancient history. (Speaking of the R&A ... nah, we'll leave that for another time.) Even if Augusta was pushed rather than jumped, it's a good move forward.
And your thoughts, friends? Where do you fall on the women-at-Augusta issue?