PGA Tour Urged to “Dissociate” from Masters over Augusta’s Membership Policy
Martha Burk, Chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), yesterday urged commissioner Tim Finchem to “dissociate” the PGA Tour from the Masters because of Augusta National’s continued refusal to admit women into its membership. Augusta National is the site of the Masters golf tournament, an event sanctioned by the PGA Tour, though the PGA does not own or run the Masters.
Earlier this year, Finchem backed away from pressuring Augusta National, claiming that not being a co-sponsor to the Masters, the Tour could not force the club to adopt “host club policy.” However, Burk insists that by sanctioning an event that is held at a club that practices such blatant discrimination, the PGA is violating its own anti-discrimination policies. Burk is calling for the PGA Tour to withdraw its support for the Masters by tomorrow—when the PGA Tour Championship commences.
The NCWO previously sent a letters to prominent members of the prestigious club asking them to urge Augusta National to alter its membership policy. To date, three members, including Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive of American Express, Citigroup chair Sanford Weill and Lloyd Ward, head of the U.S. Olympic Committee and former president of Ford Motor Company, have openly expressed their support for including women.
In related news, USA Today reported that some businesswomen in Augusta, Georgia are ready to blame the NCWO for significant revenue losses, should the 2003 Masters Tournament be canceled. However, Burk responded, “I regret Hootie Johnson and the members of the Augusta National are willing to hurt small businesses and women-owned businesses in their determination to discriminate.”
The Feminist Majority is a member of NCWO, along with 160 other groups—making total membership close to seven million.
Media Resources: NY Times 10/29/02; USA Today 10/30/02; Feminist Daily News Wire