Brava, Augusta National

Augusta National has finally done the right thing and admitted women members. Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore will be the first women to wear green jackets, the club’s chairman Billy Payne announced today.

It’s been a long time coming and didn’t happen a moment too soon.

What’s odd about the news is that the club has made the announcement at all. Augusta National’s membership list has normally been a closely kept secret. As recently as last year’s Masters, Payne bluntly told reporters that membership issues would not be discussed. But in this case, the club has blurted the right news right out.

“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership,” Payne said in the statement released by the club. “It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleeza 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.”

It hasn’t been reported who the other new members are, and it probably won’t be. The club seems eager in this case to share the news that it’s done the right thing in bringing women aboard as members — but don’t expect much more than that.

It took Augusta National 58 years to find a non-white member, and 70 years to find these two celebrated female ones — including an African America female, which ticks two boxes if anyone’s counting (and they are).

Both women report that they are delighted to have been asked to become members, as all golf fans should be. Augusta National is a one-of-a-kind course and club, and The Masters is a tournament without peer. It’s great news that the club will not have to worry about being forced to change its policies “at the point of a bayonet” any more, as former chairman Hootie Johnson once said. Nor will it have to worry about being picketed by the Martha Burks of the world again.

The times, they are a-changin’ — and changin’ for the better.

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