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Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights

It's Not About Golf: Feminists Blast Discrimination at Home of Masters Tournament

Statement of National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta, Georgia
The controversy surrounding the Augusta National Golf Club and its Masters Tournament is not about golf any more than the debates over Title IX are about college wrestling.

The question here at Augusta is whether sex segregation is acceptable. Hootie Johnson, chairman of Augusta National, tries to hide behind the private-club excuse--but during the Masters, this club becomes the public face of golf.

I have a word for the members of Augusta National: You could have taken a bold stand on behalf of women, and against discrimination--instead you helped Hootie hang the sign on the treehouse: "No Girls Allowed." But you're not little boys, and Augusta National isn't a treehouse. The membership roster of Augusta National reads like a who's who of the corporate world. I say to those business and academic leaders, politicians, captains of industry--what message does it send to your female employees, customers, students, constituents... when you say publicly that you support equal opportunity but your private actions support discrimination?

Ask yourself whether it is acceptable in this country for leaders of corporations and universities, even members of Congress, to be a member of a club that discriminates against women... for a television network that has a license from Congress for free use of our public airwaves as a public trust, to air coverage from such a place... for the PGA to look the other way, with the excuse that the Masters isn't an "official" part of the tour.

Finally, some food for thought (and this one IS about golf): In a survey last year of corporate executives who play golf, 43% of men but 63% of women said their "biggest business or sales deal was made while playing golf." And a similarly wider margin of women than men believe that "the way a person plays golf is very similar to how he/she conducts their business affairs." What does this say about the corporate leaders who are happy to discriminate against women on the links?

Gandy is available for further comment. To schedule an interview, please contact NOW's Media Relations Office at 202-628-8669, ext. 116.


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