After 80 years, the Augusta National Golf Club has announced its acceptance of its first women members. Since 1932, women were permitted to play the famed course as guests, but never, ever, as members. As you might imagine, this week’s announcement is a Very Big Deal, for American women, for sports, and for anyone who believes in doing the right thing, and not what tradition might prefer.
Augusta National presents members, and winners of its prestigious Masters golf tournament, a jacket as green as its fabled golf course. In an earlier post I noted the controversy this spring when even as its biggest advertiser (IBM) named its first female CEO (Virginia Rometty), the 2012 Masters was like every one before it: all male. Many had hoped Ms. Rometty would pull IBM’s ads.
And now there are 2 women: Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore.
The strategy of Augusta’s picks is impressive. They could have only named one woman and made history, but there would have soon been speculation about “who’s going to be the second?” This was so much newsmaking in a single press release that it’ll take a bit to digest it all.
That said, what’s left to praise about America’s most prominent female black Republican? A never-married NotMom, Ms. Rice now teaches at Stanford University’s business school. In addition to running the State Department and higher education, her personal talents include classical piano, basketball, figure skating, and (who knew?), golf.
Truth is, this fight for equality had precious little to do with sport. Secluded, direct access to influential (male) movers and shakers, sometimes for up to 5 hours, is what America’s golf courses can provide. Any woman left out of her company’s golf outings with the boss can relate.
Ms. Moore is vice president of Rainwater, Inc., a company started by her billionaire husband, Richard Rainwater. Don’t let the blonde fool you. She is the first woman ever profiled on the cover of Fortune magazine and known for…um…breaking balls. When South Carolina’s governor removed her from the University of South Carolina board last year, Ms. Moore responded by gifting the school with $5 million for an aerospace research center. A center the state had said it couldn’t afford.She is also a NotMom.
Of course, these women’s lack of children matters not one whit in the greater scheme of this story, but as they are 2 of our gender’s most powerful by any definition, it does make for an interesting side note.
Some of the online scuttlebutt about Ms. Moore exudes a vibe of, “What’s Darla Moore gonna do with all that money if she doesn’t have any kids?”
In 2010, Ladies Home Journal actually asked Ms. Rice if she’d feel “fulfilled” without children or marriage. Her answer was yes, though at her age, while there’ll be no kids, she hasn’t given up hope of marriage. I’d say a spot insports history, along with all the other history books, will add to her fulfillment just fine.