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Posted February 28, 2013 11:02 pm
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Condo­leezza Rice, Darla Moore make history as first female members

Women built relationship with club

 

The news that Condo­leezza Rice and Darla Moore would become the first female members at Augusta National Golf Club was not surprising.

After all, the two were considered front-runners to break the gender barrier at the private club that puts on the Masters Tournament.

The August announcement came four months after Augusta National and Mas­ters Chairman Billy Payne withstood extensive questioning about the club’s membership policies during his annual media address.

And it came a full decade after activist Martha Burk challenged Payne’s predecessor, Hootie Johnson, on the matter.

Augusta National broke with tradition in announcing the two new members, but few details about their relationship with the club have emerged since it opened for its abbreviated season in October.

“This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club,” Payne said in a prepared statement.

The two are no strangers to the club. Moore has been associated with Johnson for years through their Palmetto State and business connections, while Rice is a former secretary of state who has been a frequent visitor to Augusta National in recent years.

Moore, 58, is a businesswoman from Lake City, S.C. She is a partner with private investment firm Rainwater Inc., and the University of South Carolina’s business school is named in her honor.

“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,” Moore said in a statement. “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.”

Rice, who is now a professor at Stanford University and makes her home in California, said she was excited for the opportunity.

“I have long admired the important role Augusta Na­tion­al has played in the traditions and history of golf,” Rice, 58, said in a statement. “I also have an immense respect for the Masters Tourna­ment and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world. Golf is a wonderful source of enjoyment for me, and I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to grow my love for this great game.”

Both women are accustomed to breaking new ground.

Rice grew up in Birming­ham, Ala., during the civil rights era and went on to become the national security adviser and secretary of state under President George W. Bush.

Moore was raised in rural South Carolina and rose to become the highest-paid woman in banking.

Johnson, who famously responded to Burk by saying women might be invited but “not at the point of a bayonet,” applauded the club’s newest members.

“This is wonderful news for Augusta National Golf Club, and I could not be more pleased,” Johnson said. “Darla Moore is my good friend, and I know she and Condoleezza Rice will enjoy the club as much as I have.”

AUGUSTA NATIONAL MEMBERSHIP TIMELINE

 

December 1932: Augusta National Golf Club opens

March 1934: First Augusta National Invitation Tournament held

October 1990: Ron Townsend, club’s first black member, admitted

June 2002: Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, challenges club’s membership policies; club Chairman Hootie Johnson responds with terse, three-paragraph reply

August 2002: As controversy escalates, Johnson releases tournament sponsors Coca-Cola, IBM and Citigroup from their obligation

April 2003: Planned protest by Burk and others fizzles

April 2005: Sponsors return to Masters telecast after two-year absence

May 2006: Johnson steps down as chairman; Billy Payne announced as new chairman

April 2012: Payne questioned about why the chief executive officer of IBM, Ginni Rometty, was not a member

August 2012: Club announces Darla Moore and Condoleezza Rice as first female members