Monday, April 9, 2012

Masters Tournament: Tradition That Needs to Change

The Masters was started by Clifford Roberts and amateur golfer Bobby Jones in 1932. Roberts' tradition insisted golfers use Augusta National Golf Club caddies, all of whom were African American until 1982. That tradition ended. Since 1982 players can employ their own caddy. A par 3, 9 hole course has hosted a family event since 1960. Players participating can use their children as caddies. The nonfamily tradition ended. In 1975 Lee Elders was the first African American to compete in The Masters, 15 years before Augusta National Golf Club admitted its first black member. In 1990, the all-white tradition ended. Martha Burk tried to protest the no women allowed event in 2002 and was blocked twice by courts denying her a permit to protest. I enjoy watching The Masters. It's pleasing to watch people at the height of their professional game competing. Yesterday we talked about women not being allowed to play. These conversations included my Dad telling my sister that it doesn't matter that Augusta National is a private club; women should be allowed to compete. And I wondered out loud how to change another no women allowed tradition. It is a private club, yes. It is a private club for men only. But The Masters Tournament is a sanctioned PGA event. The PGA is complicit by allowing a private no women allowed club to host one of its major competitions. Tradition is no reason for continuing gender discrimination practices. Golf is not a man's game. Why not host a women's Masters? Or have the event elsewhere? Tradition has been changed within The Masters, and at Augusta National Golf Club, in the past. Time to end the no women allowed tradition, not just in golf, or all sports, but anywhere we identify men only exclusion. We do this the same way men have kept women out. With money. Do not support any money-making venture that mandates no women allowed. Do not support the advertisers for no women allowed events. Do not buy golf equipment that encourages no women allowed traditions to continue. Do not support candidates for office, or club administrative positions, who support men only exclusivity. Change the channel. WNBA draft is April 16. LPGA schedule is in full swing. Start watching women professionals compete.

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