Not the last bastion of male exclusivity, but certainly among the most prominent, Augusta National Golf Club has offered membership to two women: former US national security adviser and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and a banking and finance executive from South Carolina, Darla Moore. Augusta National hosts the Masters Championship, one of golf’s premier tournaments and one of its four “majors.”
Just as interesting is who didn’t get an invitation. Virginia Rometty, CEO of International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) was not offered a membership. IBM is one of the Masters’ corporate sponsors and the last four (male) CEOs of the company have been members.
The heat on Augusta National to admit a female member reached a boil in 2002 (11 years after the club admitted its first African-American member), but then-chairman Hootie Johnson refused to be moved. Protests against the male-only policy fizzled, but were reignited a little this year with Rometty’s ascension at IBM.
The club, which doesn’t usually announce membership decisions, made an exception today. Club chairman Billy Payne called it a “significant and positive time in our club’s history.”