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Some might argue that trying to corner Johnson in 2002 only delayed the inevitable. But there was nothing to suggest from the public’s viewpoint — everything is so secretive at his Georgia club — that a female member was in the works.
"This is a good turn of events," Burk said. "It came sooner than I expected. I thought they were going to try to outlast me. And I really thought they would wait until the women’s movement would get no credit. But if we had not done what we did, this would not have happened now. There’s a possibility it would not have happened for 20 or 30 years."
Did her protest slow progress at a club that does nothing quickly?
"I think the ‘point of a bayonet’ was indicative of the mindset, not only of Hootie but the steering body," Burk said. "No, I don’t think it would have happened sooner. They had no intention of having a woman member."
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem no longer has to cringe when the subject of Augusta National’s membership is brought up. The tour has a policy not to play at golf courses that don’t have women or minorities. But the PGA Tour has no control over the Masters. It was suggested to Finchem on more than one occasion that the tour no longer recognize the Masters as an official win, and not have its earnings count toward the PGA Tour money list.
Finchem finally said in May that the Masters was "too important" to ignore.
"We don’t get to determining whether their policies are right or wrong, because we don’t have to, because we made the conclusion that regardless of those policies, we are going to continue to play and recognize them as part of the PGA Tour," he said some of his most blunt remarks.
Finchem weighed in on Augusta’s announcement Monday by commending the club.
"At a time when women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and following the game of golf, this sends a positive and inclusive message for our sport," he said.
Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were among those who applauded the decision. Perhaps their biggest cheer is not having to answer questions about it. Whatever their feelings — and golfers are known to play it safe whenever topics turn controversial — all they cared about at Augusta National was winning the green jacket.
It comes with a lifetime exemption to the Masters, and a spot in the Champions Locker Room upstairs in the clubhouse. And if they win the Masters in April, they will be invited to a dinner hosted by members, including two of the newest members — Rice and Moore.
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