Wed Aug 22 2012The membership heard ‘round the world
The phrase “The shot heard ‘round the world” originated in Ralph Waldo Emerson's Concord Hymn, 1837 and relates to the start of the American Revolutionary War. It has been later used to denote shots or incidents of various forms that had international significance.
WELL, what has more international significance in the golf world than the announcement that Augusta National Golf Club, the home of the Masters, is now offering green jackets for women! (Every member of Augusta National receives a green sports coat with the club's logo on the left breast.) What great news for the golf and club industry by Augusta National finally signalling a real equality for this very exclusive club and for golf in general.
What about many of our Australian golf clubs though?
Will this announcement be the catalyst needed for the many clubs that still have inequality in this country by not allowing women to be full members? Will women continue to be relegated as simply “Associates”? Will clubs now see that they must move forward and help shed a stigma that sits over the head in parts of our industry. I know, your saying "its not the same thing". But is it?
We are trying to attract new players, all and any players, young/old/male/female, which women are a very sought after target market. What message does it send to the community and why does the inequality even still exist? I understand that there is a major process for this change to occur, but its still an important one in my mind that needs to be addressed. If clubs are sitting on council or Crown land should they be mandated in the best interest of community standards to change their ways and bring equality back into the club or else change their location!
The “historical significance” of the announcement should not be understated. The significance has been so great that it’s been covered heavily in most of the news mediums worldwide and locally we search each week. The announcement also made it as a headline on one of the popular morning breakfast shows, which may insignificant, but shows the relevance across their watchers.
If you missed- in a historic change at one of the world’s most exclusive golf clubs, Augusta National invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become the first female members since the club was founded in 1932. “This is a joyous occasion,” chairman Billy Payne said Monday. For some, it was a long time coming.
Even so, Billy Payne took the rare step of announcing two of the latest members to join because of the historical significance.
“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership,” Payne said in a statement. “It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall. 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 them and all of our new members into the Augusta National family.”
Tiger Woods, who knows Rice through a mutual connection to Stanford, applauded the move.
“I think the decision by the Augusta National membership is important to golf,” Woods said. “The club continues to demonstrate its commitment to impacting the game in positive ways. I would like to congratulate both new members, especially my friend, Condi Rice.”
Jack Nicklaus, a six-time Masters champion and Augusta member, extended his welcome to the two women.
“Everyone at Augusta National shares a similar passion for the game of golf, and I know they will be great additions to the club,” Nicklaus said.
Most players at the Masters steered clear of the issue when it was raised each year, citing the private nature of the club. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem also tried to stay out of it. In some of his strongest comments, he said earlier this year the Masters was “too important” for the tour not to recognize the tournament as an official part of the schedule.
Finchem commended the club on Monday.
“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,” Finchem said.
Three-time Masters champion Gary Player tweeted, “Great news. Augusta National admits its first female members in 80 years: Condoleezza Rice & Darla Moore.”
The membership issue might now shift across the Atlantic to The Open, which returns in 2013 to all-male Muirfield Golf Club. Hopefully the issue will be also raised in this country soon too as a proactive way of moving our industry forward.
PS: Here is an interesting Opinion piece we found that may be of interest.
Mike Orloff is a golf marketing and operations specialist with management experience in the golf industry in Australia and United States. He offers marketing and operational advice for golfing facilities in the areas of revenue generation, membership attainment and retention, new player development, staff recruitment, event management and retail management.
Marketing to grow golf businesses is Mike’s main focus these days.
As a current US and Australian PGA Member, Mike has more than 22 years of experience working his way up from pro shop assistant to general manager of two to five-star operations for two of the biggest international golf management companies globally. Now Mike is offering his experience, knowledge and tools to golf clubs and other golf-related businesses in Australia and New Zealand.
Articles by Mike Orloff