A national civil rights group is urging the PGA Tour and The Masters Tournament to move next month’s major championship out of Georgia — and away from the iconic Augusta National Golf Club — in the wake of Georgia’s new voting law.
The National Black Justice Coalition, or the NBJC, called on those in the golf world to take action this weekend after SB 202 passed in Georgia, something many feel severely restricts Georgians’ right and ability to vote.
“Georgia’s new law restricting voting access is designed to turn back the clock on civil rights, and return Black and poor and already disenfranchised voters in Georgia to second class citizens,” NBJC executive director David Johns said in a statement to Golfweek. “This is an unacceptable attack on our democracy and companies that operate in Georgia must speak out against this restrictive law.
“The PGA Tour and Masters Tournament have both made commitments to help diversify golf and address racial inequities in this country — and we expect them to not only speak out against Georgia’s new racist voter suppression law — but to also take action.”
Georgia Gov. Brain Kemp, a Republican, signed the bill into law last week that introduces numerous new voting restrictions, including limiting ballot drop boxes, restricting who can vote with provisional ballots, and even making it a crime for non-poll workers to provide food or water to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots, according to The New York Times.
The bill, naturally, has drawn intense criticism since it was passed — including from President Joe Biden, who said Friday that the law was “un-American” and “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”
“It’s an atrocity,” Biden said, via The New York Times. “If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they passed a law saying you can’t provide water for people standing in line while they’re waiting to vote. You don’t need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting.”
With the new rules now in place, Johns is advocating that golfers skip The Masters completely, or that the event be moved to a new course entirely.
“Professional golf should not reward Georgia’s attacks on democracy and voting rights with the millions of dollars in revenue that the tournament generates and the prestige it brings to the state,” Johns said, via Golfweek. “We all must act to protect our democracy and the right to vote.”
Could The Masters actually be moved?
Though it certainly could be possible, there isn’t much time left to actually move the first major championship of the year.
The Masters is set to kick off on April 8, which is less than two weeks away. After both the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play and Corales Puntacana Championship conclude on Sunday, only the Valero Texas Open is left on the calendar before golf’s biggest stars head down to Georgia.
If the tournament were to be moved, it wouldn’t be because the PGA Tour wanted it done.
The PGA Tour doesn’t own or operate any of golf’s four major championships. The Masters is run independently, and has always been held at Augusta National. Since the inaugural event in 1934, the tournament hasn’t been played at any other course — making it the only major championship to stick to a single course.
Given the time constraints and the deep history to the event, a change in plans this late almost certainly won’t get done.
Sports world speaks out after Georgia voting bill
Golf isn’t the only sport where people are hoping to take a stand against the voting bill.
MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark said Friday that players are ready to start talking about moving this year’s All-Star game out of Atlanta in response to the bill.
This has happened in the past, when the NBA moved the 2017 All-Star game out of North Carolina after the so-called “bathroom bill” that limited anti-discrimination protections for the LGBQ community. The NCAA followed suit and banned all championships from the state. That bill was eventually partially repealed.
MLB players are “very much aware” of the new bill, though Clark said they haven’t had an official conversation with the league about taking action yet. If it doesn’t end up getting moved, there is already talk of skipping the game in protest.
“If it gets to that point, it’ll certainly be a decision I have to make personally,” said Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who is set to manage the National League team in the game. “When you’re trying to restrict African American votes — American citizens — that’s alarming for me to hear.”
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