Master This – The Old Boys Club
For those who are die hard lovers of golf, this weekend is a highlight of the year as the world’s best players gather in Augusta, GA for The Masters Tournament. I can tell you that Mr. S. is among those who will be glued to the television coverage.
There’s an intriguing aspect however to this year’s tournament. The Augusta National Golf Club, a private club mind you, is exclusive and traditional. They are famously known for having no women among their 300 or so members and the issue rises to the forefront of the news practically every year around tournament time.
But one tradition may cause a bit of heartburn this year for the Club. Historically, the CEOs of the major sponsors (IBM, AT&T and ExxonMobil) have been granted membership – a bunch of middle-aged white guys joining up with 300 or so other middle-aged white guys to enjoy the privilege of paying exorbitant annual dues and swill $18 cocktails on the 19th hole.
But…IBM has a new CEO. Earlier this year (New Year’s Day 2012), Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, a woman, was named as IBM CEO. As of yet, no invitation for membership has been offered to Ms. Rometty. So the debate rages on (both President Obama and Mitt Romney were asked this week to weigh in on the matter) and apparently Ginni Rometty is planning to attend the tournament this week but has yet to offer any statement on behalf of IBM.
Now Augusta National is a private club and they can do what they want. But I, for one, am interested to see how this plays out. Will they extend a membership invitation to her, let the male/female dividing wall come tumbling down, and send a message that times have changed? Or, by refusing to invite her to join, will they send a very clear message of a different sort?