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Friday, May 17, 2024

Augusta need not be forced to admit all

The all-male membership at the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club, the site of the Masters tournament, never used to be an issue. In fact, even though I have watched the tournament for many years now, I was unaware that women were not allowed membership until just a few months ago. 




Unfortunately, Augusta's membership criteria have been thrust into the national spotlight, and have developed into a full-fledged gender inequality debate. While I certainly would encourage Augusta to start accepting female members, I do not believe they should be forced to as a result of tremendous pressure and potentially negative repercussions. 




Martha Burk, the chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, brought this issue to prominence, but now the likes of Jesse Jackson and even the Ku Klux Klan are getting involved. I still believe that the membership guidelines of Augusta are a non-issue, and I really don't see why the admission practices of a private club could even be in question by outside parties. 




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In my opinion, this situation is extremely simple. Augusta National is a private club and should therefore be free to set their own policies and member guidelines. Sure I disagree with them, but who am I to protest the freedom granted in our society to start such a club in the first place. The establishment of policies for a private club should rightfully be left to its members, not people outside the organization who mistakenly believe they are being discriminated against.  




I believe that Burk and the majority of the media hype surrounding this issue have neglected to emphasize that by forcing Augusta to allow female membership, they are trading inequality for violation of freedoms granted to everyone. Unfortunately, a lot of people are under the assumption that Augusta does not allow females because the male members hold some sort of superior belief about themselves, but that would be highly unlikely. 




Although the discouragement of developing a club with exclusive guidelines for entrance bothers me, the tunnel vision employed by Burk and her organization is what really turns my stomach. There is a private golf club in Canada that allows only female membership, but you don't really hear anybody crying foul about that, especially not Burk. Unfortunately, there has been almost no media coverage about this club, so most people probably don't even know it exists, but ignorance is never a valid excuse. 




If all the parties that are against the male-only membership at Augusta were truly fighting for gender equality, then why are they not also planning to protest this female-only club? How can you claim to be fighting for equality across genders if you are ignoring an injustice in your favor while doing everything in your power to let people know about the supposed discrimination of a male-only club? 




Underneath all of the media coverage and gender inequality outcries is the issue that should override all views against Augusta's membership criteria: belonging to a country club is not a constitutional right. If women's rights were being violated in any way, then I would understand and support all of the commotion that surrounds this situation. However, since no rights are being infringed upon, the sexist tag being placed on the members of Augusta is insulting to me. 




Given the total legality of having an exclusive club, I feel strongly that the pressure being exerted by various groups both for and against Augusta's membership policies are unwarranted. I wish this issue would just sink back into oblivion, because I don't think it has any relevance to a debate about gender inequality. Furthermore, by only attacking male clubs, these organizations appear to be fighting for preferential treatment toward one gender, and not the equality they claim to be lacking. 




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