Augusta National Golf Club has been operating for seventy-nine years. For its entire existence, women have not been allowed to join. African-Americans were allowed to join just 22 years ago. The private club operated for 57 years without admitting them as members, even though Augusta, Georgia has a large African-American population.
Even when they were allowed in, the decision resulted from outside pressure when sponsors like IBM dropped their advertising over the racial discrimination practiced at some golf courses where PGA tour events were being held. In other words, the policy change which finally stopped the racial discrimination, was prompted first by financial considerations, rather than social justice.
IBM still has a relationship with Augusta; most CEOs in the past have been a member. Their current CEO is female, and so far it has not been announced publicly if she has been granted membership.
The Masters, the major golf tournament played annually at Augusta, is one of the four most coveted PGA championships (if not the most) by the players. Winning this event and being able to don the green jacket is supposed to be one of the special moments of the game, but Augusta is also a private club which still discriminates against females.
Golf clubs and courses are important beyond their recreational purpose. Sometimes the difference between cementing a business relationship and not depends upon playing a round or two of golf. A recent study found bosses who don’t play golf make less money than those who do.
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