Why We Should Pay Attention To Women in Golf
…I know what you’re thinking. “This doesn’t belong on a golf blog! Did I stumble upon some weird ACLU blog?” Nope, because today the golf community has taken a huge and public stance on women’s rights and the role for women in the golf community as Augusta National admitted their first ever female members (two, in fact!) this Monday morning.
A little context for those of you that are still not convinced that this is important: 24% of golfers are women, which accounts for a little over 6 million participants in the sport each year. This is a few too many women to ignore their influence on one of America’s favorite pastimes. In fact, the Wall Street Journal published an article in 2010 entitled, “How Women Will Save the Golf Industry,” in which they detailed the important role that women have played, and will continue to play, in funding the consistently down-turning golf industry (www.ngf.org). The vice-president of the National Golf Foundation admits the desire of golf courses around the country to increase their female patrons, but cites that women often feel uncomfortable on these courses because of increased rules and regulations against them: many courses prevent women from obtaining tee times before 2pm, have no women’s golf league (nor any female pros), and pathetically unequal locker rooms for female players, in addition to a lack of “women’s accessories” in the pro shop. When you put all of these elements together, the message is clear: “you’re welcome to golf here, but you’ll be a second-class citizen while you do it.”
Interestingly enough, the golf industry is trying to change this on a national level. From increasing the number of LPGA-sponsored collegiate teams to broadcasting the LPGA on more national media outlets, it is clear that golf experts are trying to solicit that “final frontier” that is the female golf market. As Greg Nathan, VP of the National Golf Association, puts it, “When women are made to feel welcomed and comfortable, […] their play will go up.”
Personally, although I’m not very good at golf, I’ve always felt a bit of a snub from the private courses in my hometown. It’s difficult to state your excitement for a sport that seriously impairs your ability to play it with any regularity (for those of us who, like me, work busily during the week, Saturday mornings are often my only free time, and I’m unable to tee off before the early afternoon). For this reason alone, I was thrilled today to see that Augusta National announced this morning that they were awarding their first memberships to two females today – South Carolina business woman Darla Moore and former US Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice.
That these women were allowed entry into the club thrills me for three reasons:
1) In April of this year, the president of IBM (Virginia Rometty) was denied entry into the club, even after her company spent millions of dollars as a sponsor. Typically, membership is a guarentee after such a hefty sponsorship, but Rometty was denied solely on the grounds that she is a woman. This smells of such prejudice that it makes me sick, as clearly it would never be allowed to take place against a man.
2) Augusta National has a history of being a little bit prejudiced against almost everybody. The first African-American player was admitted only in 1990 (yes, friends, when we were alive!), and the club has taken heat over the years for their discriminatory policies.
3) Legally, they are a private entity, but that doesn’t make them immune to ethics. Augusta National has for years defended their policies with a simple point to US Law, claiming that they are a private organization and, much like the Girl Scouts or the Junior League, they can decide who to admit (and not admit). What’s more difficult to pinpoint, however, is where the line between the Girl Scouts and Augusta National falls. Clearly, allowing girls and boys to be a part of different scouting organizations works fine, but preventing African Americans and women from being a part of Augusta National doesn’t meet the same guidelines, and as even the golf industry admits, is unethical. As Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography in 1964, “I know it when I see it,” and so do we know injustice when we see it, and we should speak out and boycott those organizations.
As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t watched the Masters in a few years. This year will be my first, and I’m excited for April 2013 already.
Posted on August 22, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged augusta, current, fans, female, feminist, finally, golf, IBM, lpga, masters, membership, news, recent, rice, tiger, tour, women, woods. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.