Augusta National Golf Club announced on Wednesday that it plans to hold an all-women’s tournament on its course. This announcement comes six years since its first admittance of a female member. It was also 15 years since the then residing chairman said it would not be threatened into allowing woman’s admittance.
Next year, the 54-hole event of the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship will include 72 of the best amateur players worldwide. The first two rounds are to take place at the nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club. The final 18 holes, however, will be located on the same course of the Masters.
The new chairman of Augusta National, Fred Ridley, says they hope this event will have a lasting impact on the future of the women’s game. The hope is that the event will invigorate current fans of the sport and inspire others who dream of competing at Augusta National.
This new event represents a milestone for the private, exclusive club with gender rights. Ridley says the announcement was vital to the future of golf.
The History Behind the Fight for Women to Join the Augusta National Golf Club
Back in 2002, chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, Martha Burk, wrote to William Johnson the at the time chair of Augusta National. Burk argued that the club admit women as members. Johnson shot back a disdainful letter to Burk for interfering with the business of a private club. From then on, there was conflict.
Before the 2003 Masters, Burk led protests, and the club faced new scrutiny. Despite her hard work, it still took a change in chairmanship and another decade before the club would change its policy about female membership.
August 2012 would see Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as the first female club members. Although there has been no comment on female membership numbers, Ridley hinted that the number will soon be growing.
Ridley is a longtime chair of the club’s competition committee which oversees the Masters. He is in his first year as the club’s chair, and is making a point to bring diversity to Augusta.
The announcement brought an immediate positive reaction. Jack Nicklaus, six-time Masters champ, said via Twitter that this was a great step for golf.
The women’s event is expected to be televised, although there have been no deals made yet.