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Rice recently was appointed to the U.S. Golf Association’s nominating committee.
Johnson regarded the membership debate as infringing on the rights of a private club, even though every April it hosts the Masters, the most popular of the four major championships, which brings in millions of dollars through television rights for the highest-rated telecast in golf.
In a 2002 interview with The Associated Press, Johnson said the makeup of the club was more about four members-only parties each year than who plays the course.
"Our club has enjoyed a camaraderie and a closeness that’s served us well for so long, that it makes it difficult for us to consider change," he said. "A woman may be a member of this club one day, but that is out in the future."
The membership issue might now shift across the Atlantic to the British Open, which returns in 2013 to all-male Muirfield Golf Club.
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