What is the world coming to? The Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters and one of the most prestigious and exclusive clubs in the world, announced Monday that it has finally invited a woman to become a member.
And not just one, but two, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
After years of being criticized by angry feminists as a hateful and atavistic bastion of male chauvinism, the club has finally decided to join the 21st Century.
In accepting two very accomplished women (banker Darla Dee Moore is the other) to be its first female members, the club maintains its well-earned reputation for discriminating against the hoi polo. Only the most esteemed and accomplished people in the world will be considered suitable candidates for Augusta.
"This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club," said club President Billy Payne said in a statement. "These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well-known and respected by our membership. It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall."
The announcement came just 10 short years after a feminist gadfly named Martha Burk garnered headlines by organizing a protest of the club and sponsors of the Masters for its lack of a female member.
In response to the announcement of Augusta's first female members, Burk quipped, "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."
Well, that's certainly a possibility, maybe even a likelihood. But there is always the chance that Burk's stand may have actually delayed the inevitable. As then Augusta President Hootie Johnson famously wrote his club would not be forced to act on any membership "at the point of a bayonet."
In any case, it was certainly clever of the club's membership committee to accept two new female members at once. It helps protect the club against charges of mere tokenism and the embarrassment of having to create a female locker room for a single person.
"This is a significant and positive time in our club's history and, on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome (Condoleezza and Darla) and all of our new members into the Augusta National family."
And what an exclusive little family of millionaires, power brokers and high-rollers it is.
Which raises this question: What does all this have to do with the rest of us? Why should we care who gets invited to join some fancy-pants country club?
The folks at Augusta National put on a nice, little four-day golfing event every spring. Good for them and people who enjoy that sort of thing. (Count us among them.) But when it comes to the real issues this country faces, this is far, far, far from one of them.
So congratulations to Ms. Rice and Ms. Moore for getting to join such a beautiful and exclusive club.
Congratulations to Augusta National for joining the 21st Century.
And to Martha Burk for realizing her dream of seeing a fellow female finally able to call herself a member of this redoubt of southern testosterone.
What this means to the rest of us, should be very, very little indeed.
-Delaware County Daily Times