FanDuel - WFBC

April 06, 2012

Times Reporter Wishes She Could Boycott Masters: New York Times golf reporter Karen Crouse wishes she could skip the Masters. "If it were left to me, which it seldom is in the power structure of writer versus editor, I'd probably not come cover this event again until there is a woman member," she told Golf.Com. "More and more, the lack of a woman member is just a blue elephant in the room." Her editor Joe Sexton called her comments "completely inappropriate and she has been spoken to."

posted by rcade to golf at 10:08 PM - 38 comments

Oh, she got a speaking to? Great, case closed.

I can't believe that they are still pushing back on this issue, even when they have the new IBM CEO, who is traditionally given a membership, being a woman and presenting them with a convenient fait accompli to end the policy on a positive note.

posted by feloniousmonk at 10:33 PM on April 06

Great! Skip the Master's and don't cover it. No one really cares!

posted by vewill1 at 11:18 PM on April 06

Blue Elephant? Not familiar with that metaphor. White elephants...but, that's not the right color either. If anything it should be a green elephant in the room. This is The Masters after all.

I'm absolutely fine with those guys having their club membership whatever the heck they want it to. Their club, their rules. Karen Crouse, and both Romney and Obama can just go place Pebble Beach for all I care.

posted by dviking at 12:05 AM on April 07

Crouse wrote about a press conference where the Masters braintrust squirmed over the gender issue.

I think it's pathetic that the biggest golf tournament in the United States still has a gender barrier in its country club. Augusta National admitted its first black member 22 years ago. IBM's good enough to sponsor but its female CEO is inferior to her male predecessors, all of whom were made club members when they sponsored the event?

Keep this issue alive, geniuses. Let's remind people for as long as possible that the Masters was proudly segregationalist until 1975, and that co-founder Clifford Roberts once said, "As long as I'm alive, golfers will be white, and caddies will be black." Why not announce that Jews will never be members? That's just as defensible as the ban on women.

posted by rcade at 12:37 AM on April 07

Their club, their rules.

As long as we can be blunt and say that Augusta National is one of the last vestiges of good ol' boy privilege, and that treating it and its recreational horticulture with the reverence accorded to a holy site is high bullshit.

Which, if you're working for the media, you apparently can not, lest it piss off Lord High Cracker Jefferson Davis Southwillriseagain Lee, or whoever the fuck it is running the club now.

It's not simply the question of membership: it's the aura of exclusion around the club, which is all too obvious if you've ever spent any time in Augusta -- which I have. The R&A may not yet admit women as members, but you can have a picnic on the Old Course on Sundays, and you don't have to mortgage your children to Hootie, Bubba and Billy to get tickets.

posted by etagloh at 12:40 AM on April 07

Within two days, these were two of the Masters stories she wrote:

Uncomfortable Day at the Augusta National Boys Club

Treasure of Golf's Sad Past, Black Caddies Vanish in Era of Riches

Would it also have been "inappropriate" if she, as a member of the well-respected NYT, had said she had no comment? Would it have been different if she had been male? Did one of the good ol' boys placed a "WTF!" call to New York? Did the "speaking to" include a "Now be a good little girl or we'll fire you?"

Thankfully, when I get the paper, I spend the $2.50 for the news side. I get to sports if I finish the news section.

posted by jjzucal at 01:29 AM on April 07

Great! Skip the Master's and don't cover it. No one really cares!

Let us hope your town's obituary page takes the same approach.

posted by yerfatma at 01:29 AM on April 07

I'm taking the minority view here: I'm completely fine with Augusta having whoever they feel like as members. If it was a case of "any man can join, but women aren't allowed", then I'd be more inclined to agree with the detractors, but 99.99% of men can't get in, either. And women are allowed to play as guests of other members; they have simply chosen not to have a female member of the club. That's their right, and there's nothing wrong with it.

The health club "Curves For Women" is more discriminatory that Augusta is (it bars men completely, while any woman can join), but there are few complaints about that. I'm perfectly fine with it, but any defense of "Curves" can just as easily be applied to Augusta. Women want to work out without being ogled by men? Fine, but don't pretend that men might not want to get away from women sometimes, too. There are other places men can work out? Sure, but there are also other places women can play golf.

You can't have it both ways. Personally, I believe we are better off letting genders separate once in a while if they so choose. Your mileage may vary.

posted by TheQatarian at 08:17 AM on April 07

If it was a case of "any man can join, but women aren't allowed", then I'd be more inclined to agree with the detractors, but 99.99% of men can't get in, either.

But that is actually the case.

100% of the men who have been CEOs of IBM have been added as members (as long as IBM has been a sponsor). 100% of the women who have been CEOs of IBM have been excluded.

There was no social, financial, athletic, ethnic, or age barrier stopping her from being accepted, since those factors had nothing to do with the previous IBM CEOs being accepted.

posted by grum@work at 09:04 AM on April 07

The health club "Curves For Women" is more discriminatory that Augusta is (it bars men completely, while any woman can join), but there are few complaints about that.

Actually, if you Googled this at all, you'd find that Curves for Women have been subject to a number of lawsuits over the issue. Those are all complaints. Plus I've heard this exact argument around 1000 times from men when this comes up. Men complain ALL THE TIME about this.

posted by dfleming at 09:12 AM on April 07

Maybe the broadcast media could play a useful role by not televising the tournament in such a worshipful, fawning manner until the club addresses the membership issue.

That's something I have a problem with: the announcers describing the place as though it were sacred ground and a national shrine while it's in its current state. If the club wants to be seen as a national treasure, they have to become worthy of the mantle.

No amount of verdant landscaping and hallowed memories is going to make up for disturbing issues that need to be addressed.

So televise the tournament straight up with minimal swooning and no panoramic sweeps of Rae's Creek, and kiss the cozy fireside chat with the champion at Butler Cabin goodbye until the club qualifies for that kind of rapturous attention.

They also ought to rethink the ironic "a tradition unlike any other" branding. They must not realize that a goodly percentage of people who hear that slogan do not think positive thoughts in response.

posted by beaverboard at 09:15 AM on April 07

Plus I've heard this exact argument around 1000 times from men when this comes up. Men complain ALL THE TIME about this.

It's the second most common complaint by my white, male co-workers, right behind "Why isn't there a White History Month?"

posted by grum@work at 10:55 AM on April 07

I'm with the minority here who believe that, as a private club, it is Augusta National's right to have whoever they want as members. It's private, it doesn't receive government money, it's their business model. That being said, I also think that there's nothing wrong with a female reporter pointing out the fact that there are no female members and that the club is backward-ass in keeping it that way. That's the essence of this free country we live in.

I also think that the market should dictate if and when this outdated policy dies its long overdue death. If corporate sponsors pulled out, if high-profile players decided not to play, and if the networks covering it were to do so with a bit less reverence, the pressure might make a difference. Of course, President Obama has the right to his opinion, and the right to express it just like we are here, but the government should otherwise stay the hell out of the issue.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:47 AM on April 07

I would love it if the new CEO of IBM pulls the sponsorship because of the "no women allowed" attitude.

However, I suspect she'll appease the corporation with a "I don't golf, so I don't care if they don't want me." response.

posted by grum@work at 01:08 PM on April 07

But that is actually the case.

But, that's the point, you and I can't get in. Well, for sure I can't. Don't have nearly the amount of money needed, and most certainly don't have a member that is going to nominate me for membership.

It's an exclusive, private club. I have no problem with that. I have no problem with Curves, or any other club that wants to be very exclusive in their membership. This comes up each year, and each year it goes away exactly one day after the event ends, this year will be no different.

posted by dviking at 03:41 PM on April 07

This is one of the costs of living in a free society: Allowing private groups to choose who they want to associate with. Since Augusta isn't a public accommodation, the Civil Rights Act does not apply to them. If they were running a grocery store, they wouldn't be able to get away with excluding women. But since they are a private club they're free to do this.

It would certainly be fine if the CEO of IBM decided to pull her sponsorship or in some other legal way try to cajole Augusta into changing their policy. Maybe they will yield under public pressure eventually.

posted by insomnyuk at 04:01 PM on April 07

We're not arguing the legality. We're arguing the propriety. It is offensive for the nation's most famous golf tournament to be run by an organization that excludes women.

But, that's the point, you and I can't get in.

What does your inability to get into the club as an individual have to do with anything? If you had the right connections and money, you'd get in thanks to your penis. You being excluded is a different situation than a class of people being excluded arbitrarily.

posted by rcade at 05:12 PM on April 07

Maybe they will yield under public pressure eventually.

Eventually is the key word here. That the pressure so far has been so disjointed makes its own statement about how the "public" feels about this issue.

The occasional news stories or Augusta National gate protests only go so far. There is the news story about gender discrimination at Augusta National, then the media does its annual fawning over the Master's and Augusta National. The tournament golfers don't care enough about the issue to get together and take Billy and the boys to task until Augusta National halts its gender discrimination.

It's one thing to hide behind "membership" and "private" for so long. It's a matter where common decency trumps green jacket privacy. The common decency angle has now reached new heights with the IBM CEO issue.

posted by roberts at 06:20 PM on April 07

The last round of protests died when the Masters was broadcast without commercials and Georgia clamped down on speech by designating a protest zone far from the event.

I had hoped that after Hootie Johnson succeeded with his fuck-you-NOW, no-commercial year, the club had proven its autonomy and would admit a woman a few years down the road without fanfare.

But we're down that road. I doubt it will happen.

posted by rcade at 07:21 PM on April 07

Love the course, but the club's stuffy attitude bugs the hell out of me. Listening to all the talking heads on TV struggle trying to remember to refer to the spectators as "patrons" so as not to anger the Augusta elite of planet Earth is almost comical.

posted by dyams at 10:31 PM on April 07

That the pressure so far has been so disjointed makes its own statement about how the "public" feels about this issue.

If the Masters came later in the year, I suspect it'd be easier to put pressure on the sponsors in a concerted way, because the flipside of the Augusta National's prissiness about "commercial" associations -- blue-chip, executive lounge only, please -- means the ones that the tournament deigns to promote stand out.

Instead, it's the first big tournament of the year, and so there's no real golfing lead-up for anyone other than diehards. In a way, you have to admire the arseholes in charge of the club: they've managed to preserve their little corner of the South where y'all know your place, by keeping everyone who wants a piece of the Masters wrapped around their little fingers.

posted by etagloh at 12:18 AM on April 08

What does your inability to get into the club as an individual have to do with anything?

The point is, that statistically, I can't get in whether I'm a male or not.

There really isn't a propriety issue here, as there are plenty of women's organizations out there. Maybe not private women-only golf clubs (actually there are, see link at the bottom), and certainly not one as prestigious as Augusta, but that alone shouldn't matter. Would be okay to have a male only club if it was a seedy, unnoticed backwater horse shoe playing venue? If that is okay, then we're really just talking about envy. If any club, of any type, is allowed to base their membership on sex, then the argument against Augusta is silly, in my opinion.

There are some courses that get around this by offering women memberships that do not come with full playing rights. That seems like a cop out to me, and if I were a woman I'd take my money elsewhere. Would it really change anything if Augusta let in a token woman, or two? The Bryon Nelson tournament is run by the Dallas Salesmanship Club. It's a bunch of male CEO types, that basically only let new guys in when an old guy dies. But, they don't own the course, so that makes it better?

Women ought to create their own Augusta. Like these women have

Here's a good, if somewhat long, article that I tend to agree with, that covers the need for male only golf clubs.

posted by dviking at 04:02 AM on April 08

Whenever these issues come up, I'm reminded of line Barry Goldwater used when he was refused membership of some golf club in the US: "I'm only half Jewish, can I just play nine holes?"

This club (where I have reciprocal rights) was founded because a group of social golfers of a particular ethnicity had difficulty getting access to other golf courses in Sydney. When they finally got their own course built, they made sure that the club was open to all.

posted by owlhouse at 04:18 AM on April 08

Would be okay to have a male only club if it was a seedy, unnoticed backwater horse shoe playing venue?

We're talking about this because the Masters is the most prominent golf tournament in the U.S. That's what makes the symbolism of allowing a discriminatory club such an enormous platform so stark. In a country that advances the ideal of equal opportunity, this event is contrary to that principle.

No one is saying this private club should be forced to change its membership rules. But as long as it hosts a major public event that's corporate sponsored and draws a televised audience of millions, there's going to be calls for it to be inclusive. They could go the route of Butler National, which quit hosting the Western Open in 1990 rather than have to face this kind of scrutiny.

There's new talk about Butler National hosting a U.S. Open. But it won't happen until the club admits female members. That's the way it should be. Major golf events in this country should only occur at clubs that aren't discriminatory.

posted by rcade at 09:02 AM on April 08

@dviking - that link doesn't so much cover the need or make a case (as the headline says) as it lists the excuses for each one

posted by kokaku at 09:55 AM on April 08

The point is, that statistically, I can't get in whether I'm a male or not.

The same is true of Harvard. Would you be ok with them excluding groups?

posted by yerfatma at 11:26 AM on April 08

Not true of Harvard at all...I was accepted by their graduate program, choose not to due to cost, and the unexpected, but very welcomed pending birth of my daughter. Beyond that, not every one can get into every college. There are indeed male only, and women only, colleges in America, but thanks for bolstering my point. (Wellesley and Morehouse are two that come to mind, plenty of others, some take it step further and require one to be of a certain religion...egads!)

Equal Opportunity? Are you serious? Living in America some how gives you the right to be considered for membership in every private club? That is beyond ridiculous. Living in "the land of opportunity" does not grant you the right to force every other group of people to include you in their world.

Now, if your argument is purely that the PGA should not hold an event at Augusta, fine. It appears that most of the viewing public is pretty much okay with it. Tickets are hard to get, ratings are high.

kokaku, this paragraph from the link makes the case for August...at least to me. " Would the member-only events be different if women took part in them? Obviously, they would. Does that difference make a difference? Only Augusta National's members are in a position to have an opinion on that subject, and their opinion is that it does. No outsider has any basis for declining to take them at their word--just as no outsider has any basis for claiming that the Bridgies would be just as happy playing poker with their husbands. To support the right of those men to engage in such activities with other men--a right supported by the Constitution, by the way--is no more disgusting than it is to support the right of Wellesley College not to go coed"

posted by dviking at 03:05 PM on April 08

If that is okay, then we're really just talking about envy.

False dichotomy. To rephrase rcade's response, Augusta National has consistently exploited its monopsony power to preserve its retrogressive attitude. The way you change that is by no longer buying what they're selling. The Bumfuck Good Ol' Boys Club doesn't have that power.

posted by etagloh at 03:31 PM on April 08

It appears that most of the viewing public is pretty much okay with it.

You'd be surprised how few viewers know that Augusta doesn't have any female members. It's never discussed on the broadcast, so for 75% of the people watching (who only care about golf during the majors) it's never brought up.

I mean, look how many people think the Barack Obama is a Muslim, and that's been refuted hundreds of times in the past 5 years.

posted by grum@work at 03:50 PM on April 08

Some men have attended Wellesley and the other women's colleges.

It appears that most of the viewing public is pretty much okay with it. Tickets are hard to get, ratings are high.

You're certainly OK with it. You would have defended it if they still excluded blacks.

There's really no point in arguing further with someone whose thoughts are so sloppy that you'd ask me "Living in America some how gives you the right to be considered for membership in every private club?" in response to a comment in which I wrote "No one is saying this private club should be forced to change its membership rules."

Enjoy this weekend's celebration of discrimination.

posted by rcade at 03:57 PM on April 08

rcade, you wrote: in a country that advances the ideal of equal opportunity, this event is contrary to that principle.

My comments are directly related to that. The idea of America as the land of opportunity in no way should be taken to mean that everyone can get into whatever club they want. I stand by that point 100%. If you don't want me to address your points, don't list them.

BTW, it's not host to major public event. It's host to a major PGA event, the P does not stand for public.

As to your strawman arguments of racism, shut up. seriously, uncalled for, and a bit childish.

posted by dviking at 08:48 PM on April 08

I didn't accuse you of racism. Given the nature of the arguments you're using to defend the exclusion of women, you would use the same ones to exclude blacks. Is this not true -- you'd join me in opposition to Augusta National if it excluded blacks instead of women? If so, that would undercut every argument you've made.

posted by rcade at 09:06 PM on April 08

rcade, you wrote: in a country that advances the ideal of equal opportunity, this event is contrary to that principle.

The idea of America as the land of opportunity in no way should be taken to mean that everyone can get into whatever club they want.

You clearly don't understand the difference between a right, a duty, a principle and a practice. Nor do you understand that eliminating an arbitrary exclusion does not equate to guaranteed admission. That being the case, perhaps your efforts to refute arguments should stick strictly to the terms actually used in those arguments, in order to not go hopelessly astray.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:09 PM on April 08

rcade, one "exchange student" at Wellesley for a limited time really doesn't equal being admitted to the college. Would you feel all rosy about Augusta if every April they let one woman be some sort of honorary member for a week? I think not.

lbb, I have a solid grasp on rights/duty/principle and practice. The Augusta National has the right to have a men only policy, no duty to admit women, they are standing on the same principle as Wellesley (and a ton of other clubs, schools, org.s etc), and the practice of this is long standing.

Luckily, since some good old local guy named Bubba (college in Georgia at least) took care of business today, we can put this back on the shelf for another 50 some weeks. I look forward to hearing your complaints about Augusta's male only membership rules next April.

If, in the meantime, Augusta caves, and admits a token female, will that really change anything? Won't it still be a bunch of old rich guys that now have to ignore a woman other than their wives?

posted by dviking at 11:36 PM on April 08

The Augusta National has the right to have a men only policy, no duty to admit women, they are standing on the same principle as Wellesley (and a ton of other clubs, schools, org.s etc), and the practice of this is long standing.

Augusta National has the right to have a whites-only policy, no duty to admit blacks ... and the practice of this is long standing.

That was widely recognized as an unacceptable situation in 1990, prompting the PGA Tour, PGA of America and the United States Golf Association to enact a policy requiring private clubs hosting tournaments not discriminate in their membership policies against minorities or women.

Augusta National responded to that controversy by admitting its first black member, claiming it was planning to do that anyway.

For some reason, in 22 years it has refused to make the same change for women to comply with the guidelines.

It's a shame that the status quo is accepted by so many. Karen Crouse was right to speak up. It's an embarrassment to golf that an exclusionary club with an infamous history of racism continues to host a major. The Masters doesn't have to be held in such esteem. There are other tournaments worthy of being a major that don't exclude on the basis of gender or race.

The decision to admit every IBM CEO as a member until that CEO lacked a member is the last straw for me. I'm done holding up the Masters as something "sacred" in sports -- as Jim Nantz put it today for the 1,000th time.

posted by rcade at 01:04 AM on April 09

lbb, I have a solid grasp on rights/duty/principle and practice.

Then why, when someone speaks to you about principles, do you reply by constructing a strawman argument that misstates their position as one about rights?

Augusta is not alone in needing to learn this lesson: the more rigid your position, the easier it is to knock you down.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:21 AM on April 09

The Masters doesn't have to be held in such esteem. There are other tournaments worthy of being a major that don't exclude on the basis of gender or race.

And this is the crux: the contractual-obligation sycophancy towards Confederate Acres on the Savannah. They can preen themselves and demand to be portrayed the Vatican of golf (as they've got the misogyny down pat) but we don't have to buy into the charade.

I'll just treat TPC at Sawgrass as the first major of the year.

posted by etagloh at 03:23 PM on April 09

I'll just treat TPC at Sawgrass as the first major of the year.

And, thus, my secret agenda is laid bare.

posted by rcade at 04:10 PM on April 09

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.