The Augusta National Club has some pretty prestigious members, but every one of them is male. In fact, the club’s rules prohibit females from taking part in the club, although they are allowed to accompany members on the course and amenities. Augusta is coming under fire even more than normal for its practices because of a little company you might have heard of called International Business Machines. Yes, IBM.
IBM is a heavy sponsor for the Masters, which is currently going on at Augusta National’s golf course. This is, of course, a huge competition of the who is who of professional golfing, including the media magnet Tiger Woods. The last three CEO’s of IBM all enjoyed membership at Augusta, but Virginia “Ginni” Rometty just recently became the female CEO of IBM, and Augusta has no intentions of changing their policies. This may end the tradition of the club offering a membership to IBM CEO’s. And many wonder if it could mean IBM pulling its sponsorship from The Masters under the careful hand of Rometty.
In true election year form, none other than President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue, saying that he believes that now is the time for Augusta to reconsider and invite a female member. Republican nomination chaser Mitt Romney quickly echoed the sentiment.
While accusations of discrimination are abound, it is important to remember that Augusta is a private club. Private clubs are allowed to set their own rules under law, and there is nothing preventing them legally from decreeing that no females can enter the club. Have you seen anyone angry at the Freemasons for not allowing women to enter? Nope. Under the law, a private club can set whatever rules it sees fit, and in this case, Augusta says no women.