In a media blitz, including a commentary and interviews with key newspapers, Augusta National chair Hootie Johnson staunchly defended and reasserted his position refusing to admit women into the club’s elite membership.
Despite statements made by prominent club 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, expressing their support for including women, Johnson insists there is no timeframe for altering the membership policy founded on the premise of “friends, getting together and playing golf, and just É being men,” reported CNNSI.com.
In his commentary appearing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Johnson charged that criticisms of sexism are “ludicrous,” since “women regularly play the course, with no restrictions” except for their denied membership. (In addition, coed golf foursomes are prohibited.) When questioned by CNNSI about the club’s 1990 policy change admitting African-Americans into membership, Johnson stated that doing so was “the right thing to do.” Still, “[t]hey’re totally different, racial issues and gender issues,” he told the New York Times.
Last month, Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), 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. Finchem had earlier backed away from pressuring Augusta National, claiming that not being a co-sponsor of 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.
The Feminist Majority is a member of NCWO, along with 160 other groups making total membership close to seven million.