Take on Darla and Condi: Never Too Late
to Do the Right Thing
August 20, 2012
Congratulations to Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National, and those involved in
finally admitting two women, Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, to become
members of Augusta National. It’s never
too late to do the right thing.
Augusta National knows the trends and its
Although the total number of golfers and the number of
rounds played in the U.S. continues to decline, women golfers and especially
young junior golfers are the sweet spot in the golf industry. They are the only segments which are showing
an increase in golf participation based on information from the National Golf
It’s “O.K” for girls to be athletes and that includes
playing golf! And the players on the
LPGA Tour are presenting strong and positive images of women’s golf. And I haven’t even mentioned the LPGA-USGA
Girls Golf program or The First Tee, which is generously supported by Augusta
National, with girls accounting for about one-third of its participants.
It’s been forty years since the U.S. Congress passed
Title IX which requires that educational institutions that accept federal funds
must have comparable athletic programs for both men and women. Forty years is almost two generations. We are seeing the impact of Title IX
standards of “comparability” in the children of the first generation of Title
Indeed, Augusta National has tremendous power and
influence. The time had come for Augusta
to reinforce the message that golf is also a game for women and girls. It’s not just for men.
And, it may have been increasingly awkward for Tim
Fenchem, Commissioner of the PGA Tour, to continue defending the male-only
policy of Augusta while demanding anti-discrimination policy from other
tournaments included in the PGA Tour season-long tally. And the PGA of America now has two women on
its Board of Directors and a strategic push for women’s golf.
Augusta needed to create that illusive tipping-point
that would increase awareness and legitimacy for women’s golf and uphold the
“democracy” of the game. And they have!
Of course, I know the accomplishments of our former
Secretary of State, but the name “Darla Moore” rang a bell with me. In the 1990’s when I was an Assistant General
Counsel in the legal department of
Prudential Financial and heading up its portfolio of mortgages on then-bankrupt
department stores such as Macy’s, I heard about this top female bankruptcy
expert, Darla Moore.
Twenty years ago, when women were concerned that they
“blended” in to a male environment, Darla chose not to. She dressed fashionably, kept her blond hair
and if my memory serves me right, wore red nail polish and stylish shoes.
Darla is an expert in her field and unique. And the same can be said for Condoleezza. They
are good choices for Augusta National, a very elite and private club of
accomplished people. That is not to
imply in any way, that there are not many other women who would fit in
perfectly at Augusta. And hopefully,
there will be more.
But one of the first questions that popped into my mind
upon hearing the news was: “Are Condi
and Darla good golfers?” Even important
male CEO’s with 36 handicaps are probably not invited to membership at Augusta.
And the answer is:
Condoleezza is a member of the Women’s Northern California Golf
Association and as of August 15th, has a USGA Handicap Index of
12.1. (This is public information available
on ghin.com, a handicap website sponsored by the United States Golf
Condoleezza’s handicap places her in the top six
percent of all female golfers maintaining official handicaps with the
USGA. Yes, she is a very good golfer! If she is playing a medium-difficult course from
the forward tees, on a good day she will probably always shoot in low
I could not find Darla’s handicap information, but
given her approach to most things, I am confident she is also a very good golfer.
And the next question that popped into my mind was
“Does Augusta National have any forward tees or will Condi and Darla play from
the 6,000-yard-plus Members Tees?” I am
assuming that neither will routinely choose to play from the 7,400 yard Masters
I made a couple of calls and it’s my understanding that
at this time, there are not official “forward” tees at Augusta. But the custom has been that female guests of
members – and now female members – usually tee up their ball at the front of
the teeing ground of the Members Tees.
If that is where Condi plays from, my guess is that on a good day she
will score in the mid-eighties. That’s
What is also good is that Augusta National from the
Members Tees is a relatively friendly course.
In other words, there are no long carries over water, ravines or fescue
grasses that require super-long tee or fairway shots. Strategy is what matters, and I am confident
that both Darla and Condoleezza understand strategy including golf-course
Augusta’s two new members will be making news all over
the U.S. and internationally as well. One
TV commentator referred to today, August 20th, as an “historic day
for golf.” I think that may be a bit of
It’s important to remember that Augusta is a private
club and will continue to have the right as a private club to only admit members
that they choose to admit. Who knows
when they will invite another female to join?
The vast majority of Americans, including me, will
continue to play golf at public and semi-public courses or at the declining
number of private courses.
But wherever women choose to play, we must be welcomed
into the game by friendly and helpful golf professionals and managers. Even though our numbers are growing, women
and girls still represent only about twenty-two percent of all golfers over the
age of six in the U.S. Let’s keep growing
the game for women.
Thank you, Augusta National, for opening the door --
even if just a crack -- so that more women and girls can play more golf. As I like to remind women: Be Healthy, Be Happy, Live Longer, Play Golf.