Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Who's who at Augusta National
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ^ | 9/20/02 | David A. Markiewicz and Glenn Sheeley

Posted on 09/20/2002 1:34:08 PM PDT by GeneD

Augusta National Golf Club's all-male membership is an eclectic who's who of the corporate, political and sports worlds.

Its approximately 300 members range from former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird to University of South Carolina football coach Lou Holtz; former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn and auto scion and Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford; ex-General Electric CEO Jack Welch and Atlanta developer Tom Cousins.

The club's roster includes race car builder Roger Penske; the director of the Minnesota Museum of American Art, Bruce Lilly, and beer baron Peter Coors. Also, investment genius Warren Buffett, former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady, United States Olympic Committee CEO Lloyd Ward and former Masters golf champions Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

And now its membership is under a political microscope.

Martha Burk, head of the National Council of Women's Organizations, is pressuring Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson to admit a woman member and is sending letters questioning club policy to the membership.

Johnson has maintained the club might invite a woman in the future, but on its own terms.

"That decision," said member Edwin Douglass Jr., CEO of the Augusta Cab Company, "is up to the powers that be."

"This is a private club," said member Ben S. Gilmer of Atlanta, a former president of AT&T. "What they say among themselves is a private matter. Other people are trying to inject themselves into a private matter. . . . He [Johnson] speaks for the club, so if he speaks for the club on this issue, he speaks for me on it."

The Augusta membership list is never publicized, but the high-profile men can be seen wearing their green jackets on the property every April at the Masters. Some list their membership in Who's Who bios.

For most private clubs, the identity of members is of little public interest or concern. But the current controversy -- plus Augusta National's staunch efforts to protect the names of its membership -- has put the host of the Masters under a different spotlight.

At most private clubs, a person expresses an interest to join and seeks current members to vouch for him. Augusta National initiates its members search. Nicklaus and Palmer are the only former Masters champions who are members. Bill Gates, the world's richest man, was unsuccessful in gaining membership in recent years, but is now reported to be among the list of current invitees.

Selective as its roster is, Augusta National's membership includes a preponderance of current and former business executives of major companies, many of them chairmen or chief executives.

They include Kenneth Chenault of American Express, Louis Gerstner Jr. of IBM, Christopher Galvin of Motorola, Dessey Kuhlke of SunTrust Banks, Hugh McColl of Bank of America, Sanford Weill of Citigroup and Thomas Usher of U.S. Steel Corp.

In some cases, a company has had more than one executive as a member, effectively establishing a legacy at Augusta.

From Citigroup, for instance, Weill, its current CEO, and former co-chairman John Reed are both members. Former American Express CEO James D. Robinson III is a member along with Chenault. General Electric is represented by former CEO Reginald Jones as well as Welch. Standard Oil and AT&T each has more than one executive on the Augusta National roster.

At the same time, many major corporations don't have an executive as a member. Atlanta's corporate power structure, despite its proximity to Augusta National, is not significant among the membership. UPS, BellSouth and Georgia-Pacific, all major business players in Atlanta, have no executives as members, for example.

This phenomenon may reflect a club policy toward a nationwide membership, rather than a more local one.

Coca-Cola, which co-sponsored last year's telecast of the Masters tournament, is represented by Buffett and Nunn, who are on the company's board of directors.

When the controversy over membership first broke in the summer, Coke was discussing with Augusta National how to deal with the issue. But Johnson abruptly dropped Coca-Cola and the other two corporate sponsors of the Masters golf tournament last month.

Georgia boasts the most members, but Florida, California, New York, Illinois, Texas, Connecticut and South Carolina also claim a large number.

Atlanta is represented by, among others, former Georgia Gov. Carl E. Sanders, former Atlanta Olympic Games organizer Billy Payne, and businessmen including Eugene Howerdd and Charles R. Yates Jr.

The membership list also includes many names not recognizable to the general public.

Almost to a man, the members rarely have spoken out about Augusta National's policies and generally have referred all inquiries to Johnson.

However, a few have talked, either directly or through representatives, about the current controversy or about their membership in the exclusive club.

One member, U.S. Rep. Amory Houghton Jr. of New York, is "ultimately . . . sure that Augusta will have women members," said Bob Van Wicklin, a spokesman for the congressman, who is a former CEO of Corning Glass. "But it's not his call on this," Van Wicklin added.

He said Houghton has "been in touch with the leadership at Augusta, and he's working with the organization." Van Wicklin also made the point that the congressman "has been very active in women's issues in the past."

Most other Augusta National members who were contacted declined to comment on specifics.

Cousins, chairman of Cousins Properties, said he "enjoys the club" and declined to comment further, saying: "It would not be appropriate for me to comment [on club policy]. It is a private club and has one official spokesman. This is a policy of the club that I agreed to when I became a member."

Holtz, recently invited to join Augusta National, said: "I have played there many, many times over the years as a guest. My wife has played there and she loves it. We have stayed all night there at the course. She is as excited as I am."

Asked about the question of its absence of women members, Holtz said: "My wife has played there and so did a thousand other women last year. I don't know where the no-women policy is. . . . I don't want to hear 'no women,' because my wife has played there."

Kevin Caulfield, a spokesman for Coors Brewing Co., said chairman Peter Coors' membership at the golf club was not a company issue.

"Peter's membership is his own membership. It's entirely personal, entirely private," Caulfield said. "There's no corporate relationship whatsoever with the golf club. Peter's position on diversity is reflected in the practices and policies of Coors Brewing Co. and those policies and practices have been widely applauded.

"Why would you drag our products into this controversy?" Caulfield said. "As a company, our policies are admirable."

Several members, or their spokesmen, said their golf club memberships were paid by the members themselves, not their companies. That makes the issue a private, not a public matter, they contend.

That is a subject of debate among business ethics experts.

"The golf club is a private club. The only choice individual members have is they can resign in protest if they want," said Hans Schollhammer, an authority on business ethics at UCLA's Anderson Graduate School of Management. "It's simply up to them. . . . The club consists of individual members and they must decide individually.

"If the company pays for the membership . . . there can be an ethical issue . . . The company may not want to project an image of discriminating against a gender. It's not an ethical issue for the company as long as the individual executive is paying for the membership and is not representing the company," Schollhammer said.


Reporters: Tasgola Bruner, Curtis Bunn, John McCosh, Lateef Mungin, Craig Schneider, Carrie Teegardin, Mike Tierney, Bill Torpy, Tim Tucker, Henry Unger, Tom Walker.

Researchers: Nisa Asokan, Kathy Drewke, Sharon Gaus, Richard Hallman, Jennifer Ryan, Alice Wertheim, Joni Zeccola.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: Georgia
KEYWORDS: amoryhoughton; arnoldpalmer; augustanational; bengilmer; brucelilly; cbs; christophergalvin; desseykuhlke; georgeshultz; hootiejohnson; hughmccoll; jacknickaus; jacknicklaus; jackwelch; jamesrobinsoniii; kennethchenault; lloydward; lougerstner; louholtz; marthaburk; masters; melvinlaird; nicholasbrady; petercoors; rogerpenske; samnunn; sanfordweill; thomasusher; tomcousins; viacom; warrenbuffett
This looks like eeeeeeasy pickins.

Sorry I got carried away with the keywords, but this must have been a BIG story at the Journal-Constitution with all those writers.

1 posted on 09/20/2002 1:34:08 PM PDT by GeneD
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: GeneD
Don't know if you heard the latest news, but CBS told the women that it was going to go ahead and broadcast the Masters. That's the right thing.

A woman,
2 posted on 09/20/2002 1:39:33 PM PDT by FreeTheHostages
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GeneD
How many men play in the LPGA?
3 posted on 09/20/2002 1:45:10 PM PDT by Right Wing Professor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GeneD
Here is an idea: Extend an invitation to Ann Coulter and let her announce she joins Augusta National, but shall never attend (except perhaps as a guest) out of respect for the men only tradition of the club.
4 posted on 09/20/2002 1:50:23 PM PDT by San Jacinto
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GeneD

Martha Burk, head of the National Council of Women's Organizations, is pressuring Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson to admit a woman member and is sending letters questioning club policy to the membership.

Fortunately, Burk is doing more harm than good for the NCWO as this latest ploy of hers is backfiring. Soon she may get a productive job that she can be proud of instead of being a PC leach.

5 posted on 09/20/2002 2:07:41 PM PDT by Zon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GeneD
Gates wanted to become a member and was rebuffed and Sean Connery was invited to become a member and politley refused.
6 posted on 09/20/2002 2:12:50 PM PDT by marshmallow
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GeneD
Maybe Hootie should tell Martha Burk to allow men on this course first:

No Man's Land

7 posted on 09/20/2002 2:19:44 PM PDT by gubamyster
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GeneD
Augusta National is a PRIVATE CLUB. If you go here:

Members are members in their names only, not their companies, places of work or corporations. Men and their families; women and their families, grandparents and their grandchildren are welcome at most clubs as guests if they are not members. Martha Burk is just one more feminist spoiler looking into hallowed ground for political reasons and for what? Does she play golf, has she ever asked to become a member of these clubs, which clubs does she belong to if any and what are those by-laws?

Women are not excluded from these clubs and if they were, why go where you aren’t wanted! Most women cannot afford the that her beef or is she just as stupid as all the women’s organizations apparently are. I fail to see why any self-respecting female would be a party to NOW or the NCWO.

Right On CBS, you're doing the right thing.

8 posted on 09/20/2002 2:25:44 PM PDT by yoe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GeneD
this must have been a BIG story at the Journal-Constitution

This follows an Editorial by Cynthia Tucker a few days ago stating that Augusta National was fighting a battle they couldn't win.

Hang tough Hootie!

9 posted on 09/20/2002 3:45:03 PM PDT by kcordell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Zon
Fortunately, Burk is doing more harm than good for the NCWO as this latest ploy of hers is backfiring.

I agree. Don't you just love it?

I am so glad that an entity as well known as Augusta National is standing their ground. The companies that stood up to Je$$e Jack$on didn't get much exposure.

10 posted on 09/20/2002 3:52:09 PM PDT by kcordell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: marshmallow
Gates wanted to become a member and was rebuffed

You don't ask to become a member. You are asked. If you are not asked there ain't no way you will become a member.

I support them. It is a private organization. It doesn't answer to the government, NOW or the Atlanta Urinal and Constipation.

Go Hootie.

11 posted on 09/20/2002 3:59:33 PM PDT by jackbill
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: jackbill
There are ways of getting "invited" to become a member. Especially if you're the world's richest man.

You pick up the phone. You call people. You make contacts. You know how it goes.

I'm not sure if someone proposed Gates and he was voted down or if it even got that far. But he was given the thumbs down.

12 posted on 09/20/2002 4:32:36 PM PDT by marshmallow
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: GeneD
Augusta National is a private organization. Their freedom of association is protected under the Constitution.

The homosexuals learned that the hard way when they tried to stick pedophiles in tents with young boys. Augusta National does not owe that bunch of feminazis anything!

13 posted on 09/20/2002 6:58:13 PM PDT by nonliberal
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: San Jacinto
Women can play at Augusta and frequently do. It's just men that can be members. I hope they will change that, but a lot of women play there and women can stay overnight at the club.
14 posted on 09/20/2002 7:54:48 PM PDT by The Person
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: marshmallow
Augusta is noteworthy for discouraging the normal lobbying. Anyone who asks even a friend to help is not supposed to get in.

The rumor is that, after being turned down, Bill Gates is on the list for membership and will be (or just has been) asked to join. With only 2 golfer members (Palmer and Nicklaus), you can bet that a lot of subtle lobbying by other golfers has gone for naught.

Of course, anyone who has qualified for the next Masters can come and play anytime they want until they play in the tournament.
15 posted on 09/20/2002 8:01:08 PM PDT by The Person
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson