Thomas Wyman, a former CEO of CBS, last week quit his 25-year membership in Augusta National Golf Club to protest its male-only membership policy. Wyman had previously written a letter to club chair William “Hootie” Johnson expressing his concern with the club’s discriminatory membership policy; Johnson affirmed his position against admitting women as members of the club in a response to Wyman, according to the New York Times. Wyman told the Times that he hoped his decision to resign would convince others within the membership to speak out in favor of women members. He believes that there are at least 50 to 75 men among the 300 members who support admitting women.
The National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), under the leadership of Chair Martha Burk, has been spearheading the campaign to admit women to the exclusive golf club in Augusta, Georgia, since June. Recent support for women members has come from such prominent individuals as Ty Wotaw, commissioner of the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and Julian Bond, chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The Times also published an editorial criticizing Augusta’s discriminatory policy last month. Several prominent members of Augusta have also publicly expressed their support for the admission of women, 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.
Augusta National is the site of the Masters, an event sanctioned by the PGA Tour, though the PGA does not own or run the Masters. The NCWO argues that by sanctioning an event held at a club that practices such blatant discrimination, the PGA violates its own anti-discrimination policies. The Feminist Majority is a member of NCWO, along with 160 other groups making its total membership close to seven million.