Billy Payne, new chair of Augusta National Golf Club, has stated that he will uphold the all-male club’s practice of denying membership to women. According to the New York Times , Payne has declared that “we have no specific timetable to address that issue.” He has declined a request to meet with Martha Burk, the former chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) who has led protests against the club’s discriminatory policies, stating that “I don’t see at this time that any dialogue would be meaningful or helpful,” reports the Times.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Burk, now Money Editor of Ms. magazine and chair of NCWO’s Corporate Accountability Project, said, “I thought it would be an opportunity for the club to move forward, and it does not sound like that’s the case. He’s had several years to speak out as a member and clearly did have the courage to do so. As the chair, I thought his backbone might be a little stiffer.”
Augusta National hosts the Masters Golf Tournament, one of the sport’s most prestigious events, every year. The 2003 protest led by NCWO and member groups such as the Feminist Majority Foundation, drew national attention and caused CBS to broadcast the event without corporate sponsorship for two years in a row. Burk is currently spearheading a movement to raise public awareness of companies who sponsor the Masters or whose CEOs maintain their Augusta memberships, which violates their companies’ anti-discrimination policies.