Monday, April 2, 2012

Women, Money & The Masters

"Women, Money & The Masters"
By Sean Mysel

Reference Golf Digest Article:  link

As The Masters is fast approaching, the yearly disgust at Augusta National's "policy" towards women rears its ugly head...again.  Augusta National, known for it's breathtaking layout with its trademark Azaleas has always been known as one of the game's most popular and beautiful spots has again, shown its ugly side.  For over 80 years, the club has never allowed women to become members and has always failed to explain the reasoning for this.  Yet, women, especially Martha Burk have never accepted this policy and have waged an all out media campaign to force the trustees to explain themselves.

Unfortunately for Burk, this crusade against Augusta National has bore no fruit and essentially gets dismissed by tournament's end.  Yet, this year has some intrigue to it.  Ginny Rometty, IBM's CEO is a woman and head of one of The Masters biggest sponsors.  Traditionally, the CEO of a sponsor company is made a member of Augusta National.  Here's where politics and business collide in the theater of social change.  You have this very famous and respected tournament taking an unrelenting verbal bashing from a prominent women's activist with one of the few powerful women in business deciding what to do.  Wouldn't be terrible for a movie script would it?

For all the great things Burk has done to shed light on the question of Augusta's membership policies, she in my opinion made a critical error this time around.  She called out Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson for not challenging the trustees to change their ways.  This wouldn't be a problem except the way the message was delivered to both past champions.  Burk said that Woods "had no balls" and that Mickelson was "chicken s***".  Her reason for this is the fact that both men are major factors in the sport, champion children's golf and have daughters.  Here's the question I would ask Burk:  will name calling ever rally those people to your side?  What about the younger stars like Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia or Rickie Fowler?  Now that you have taken the heads of a couple well known figures do you think they want to come over to your way of thinking.

The miscalculation Burk made is these golfers won't call out the trustees because it's probably been their childhood dream to play and win a green jacket.  People like Mickelson and Woods have an obligation to quite a few people like their families and sponsors.  While in a perfect world there would be a clamoring to remove a stupid and archaic policy as the one Burk is protesting against, it's going to take a more monumental force to create change.  Something like a major sponsor pulling out because she's offended by the policy.  But even then, that same CEO has even more responsibility.