Ten years ago, former Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Hootie Johnson said the hallowed home of the Masters would not be forced to add women as members “at the point of a bayonet.” On Monday, the club added two pioneers familiar with leverage.
Augusta National timeline
1933: Founded in Augusta by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts.1934: Horton Smith wins the first Masters tournament.1990: Addition of first black member, TV executive Ron Townsend.1996: Judy Bell elected president of USGA; typically USGA presidents are invited to become members of Augusta National.2002: Activist Martha leads protest calling for women members.2003-2004: The Masters takes sponsors off the controversy hook by going commercial free for two years.April 2012: Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne is peppered with more questions than usual about membership restrictions at his annual “State of the Masters” news conference.Monday: Darla Moore and Condoleezza Rice announced as first female members.
Darla Moore, a South Carolina financier and philanthropist, and Condoleezza Rice, who served as secretary of state for President George W. Bush, are the first female members at Augusta.
About the new members
Darla MooreAge: 58Born: Lake CityBio: Farmer’s daughter and University of South Carolina graduate (MBA from George Washington) soared to success in banking and investing; she and husband Richard Rainwater have donated many millions, much of it to education ($70 million to USC’s Darla Moore School of Business and $10 million to Clemson’s School of Education); Moore lives primarily in Lake City but also owns a home in Charleston.Condoleezza RiceAge: 57Born: Birmingham, Ala.Bio: Secretary of State under President George W. Bush; University of Denver undergrad and Ph.D. with master’s degree from Notre Dame; was a professor at Stanford; first African-American and first woman to serve as a Stanford provost; a piano prodigy as a child; has said she someday wants to be commissioner of the National Football League.
“The Augusta country club has finally done the right thing,” said Jennet Robinson Alterman, executive director of Charleston’s Center for Women. “Darla Moore and Condoleezza Rice are women of power, and their inclusion is most appropriate and to be lauded. I do look forward to the day when we don’t have to talk about ‘the first women to’ anymore.”
What they’re saying
“I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life.”Darla Moore“We are fortunate to consider many qualified candidates for membership at Augusta National. Consideration with regard to any candidate is deliberate, held in strict confidence and always takes place over an extended period of time. The process for Condoleezza and Darla was no different.”Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne“I think the decision by the Augusta National membership is important to golf. The Club continues to demonstrate its commitment to impacting the game in positive ways. I would like to congratulate both new members, especially my friend Condi Rice.”Tiger Woods
Moore, 58, is a Lake City native and part-time Charleston resident who is vice president of Rainwater Inc., a prominent private investment company. She and her husband, ace dealmaker Richard Rainwater, have poured $70 million into the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business and donated $10 million to Clemson’s Eugene T. Moore School of Education, named for Moore’s father. Moore also is founder of The Charleston Parks Conservancy, a foundation aimed at enhancing parks and green spaces.
Rice, 57, has spent her life breaking racial and gender barriers.
“We’re very pleased,” said Martha Windich of the Charleston Area Ladies Golf Association, which has more than 300 members. “The two ladies who are first to break the ice are certainly wonderful recipients and great representatives for the game of golf. And it’s very nice to have a South Carolina connection with Darla Moore.”
Beth Daniel, the Charleston native and World Golf Hall of Famer who was named LPGA Player of the Year three times, also welcomed the news.
“I thought it was great,” Daniel, 55, said Monday from a charity event in Michigan. “I thought it would happen eventually and it kind of happened on Augusta National’s terms. They weren’t going to be forced into anything. But this is great news and I’m really happy that they admitted two women and not just one.”
Rice and Moore reportedly have been on the Augusta National radar for at least five years. Rice doubles as one of the most powerful women in the world and avid sports fan. Moore has a long-standing friendship with Johnson, a fellow South Carolina graduate.
“I am honored to have accepted an invitation to join Augusta National Golf Club,” Moore said Monday in a statement. “Augusta National has always captured my imagination, and is one of the most magically beautiful places anywhere in the world, as everyone gets to see during the Masters each April.
“I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life. Above all, Augusta National and the Masters Tournament have always stood for excellence, and that is what is so important to me. I am extremely grateful for this privilege.”
National news organizations are running “Who is Darla Moore?” briefs, but South Carolinians — and Wall Street power brokers — know her as legendary.
Moore graduated from South Carolina in just three years, and got her MBA at George Washington University. Quickly, she went from helping the sharecroppers on her father’s farm for 10 cents a day to presiding over lucrative leveraged buyouts.
Even as one of the brightest stars in banking, Moore knew her way around the Augusta boys club. When asked about joining Augusta National by The Wall Street Journal a decade ago, the daughter of a Lake City tobacco farmer said, “I’m as progressive as they come. But some things ought not to be messed with.”
Augusta National did not add a black member until 1990 when TV executive Ron Townsend joined.
Activist Martha Burk rattled Augusta National in 2002, staging a high-profile protest over the all-male policy. Guarding its sponsors from controversy, Augusta National simply put on the 2003 and 2004 Masters tournaments without TV commercials.
“We do not intend to become a trophy in their display case,” Johnson said of the protesters. “There may well come a day when women will be invited to join our membership but that timetable will be ours and not at the point of a bayonet. We do not intend to be further distracted by this matter.”
Augusta did not ban women from the course or clubhouse. In fact, the South Carolina Gamecocks women’s golf team has practiced there. But Billy Payne succeeded Johnson as Augusta National chairman and said similar things about membership policy.
In April, as Payne was dodging membership questions at his annual “State of the Masters” meeting with reporters, President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney actually agreed on something — that Augusta should add female members.
Before becoming Secretary of State, Rice was the first African-American and first woman to be a Stanford provost.
“I am delighted and honored to be a member of Augusta National Golf Club,” said Rice, currently a professor of political economy at Stanford. “I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity.”
Payne called the addition of Moore and Rice “a joyous occasion.”
“We are fortunate to consider many qualified candidates for membership at Augusta National,” Payne said in a statement. “Consideration with regard to any candidate is deliberate, held in strict confidence and always takes place over an extended period of time. The process for Condoleezza and Darla was no different.”
Next? Maybe IBM chief executive Virginia Rometty. IBM’s four previous CEOs were offered Augusta memberships.
Reach Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff or at 937-5593.
Darla Moore speaks to students at the University of South Carolina, Thursday, March 24, 2011 in Columbia, S.C. Moore, the University of South Carolina benefactor ousted by the governor from the school's Board of Trustees two weeks ago, announced a donation of $5 million to start a school for aerospace research. (AP Photo/Brett Flashnick) Published Caption 3/25/11: Darla Moore is USC's largest benefactor, with $75 million in gifts, including the one she made Thursday.×
** FILE ** U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, right, waves as she arrives accompanied by Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad at the Palestinian Authority headquarters for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah in this file photo taken Monday, Nov. 14, 2005. The United States on Tuesday made its first contact with the new Hamas-Fatah coalition _ ending a yearlong diplomatic boycott of the Palestinian government just three days after the more moderate unity team took office. The meeting between a U.S. diplomat and the Palestinian finance minister signaled a break in policy between Israel and its closest ally and could mark a significant step toward ending a painful aid cutoff against the Palestinian government. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti,File)×
Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, was under criticism because of its all-male membership.×
South Carolina financier Darla Moore (left) and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are the first female members that Augusta National Golf Club has accepted in its 80-year history.×