Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Martha Burk Bogies Augusta National



The current flap over membership at the Augusta National Golf Club purports to center around female membership at an all-male golf club. Obviously, the controversy wouldn't have achieved such epic proportion if Augusta were not the home of the Masters Golf Tournament, one of the four national American events in the golf world called Majors. The Masters is a stop on the PGA, an all-male venue.

It's as if women were demanding to be allowed to play at Yankee Stadium, because the World Series has been hosted there more times than non New Yorkers care to remember. Intimidate the World Series sponsors and advertisers because women are not allowed to play on that hallowed ground.

Is this really an issue?

Salary equity in the job market between men and women is a legitimate issue, for sure. Long overdue and not yet fully achieved. But private club membership? Ms. Martha Burk, head of the National Council of Women's Organizations seems to think so, but the title of her organization is suspect in itself. "Women's Organizations?" How gender specific. Does the Evanston (Illinois) Women's Club accept men? If so, what's the point in calling it a Women's Club? If not, where's the equity?

Augusta National Golf Club is an old (1932) and very exclusive private golf club for rich and powerful men who, for reasons of their wealth and power, choose to associate with one another. What's wrong with that? Are "women's rights" being offended by that? If rich and powerful women want to organize a very exclusive golf club, is anyone preventing that occurrence? Is Augusta's preference for rich and powerful men up for grabs because they are the venue for a revered and historic golf tournament? Why? It's a men's tournament, for God's sake.

C'mon, Martha, find an issue that's worthy of discussion.

Let's suppose Ms Burk is successful in extorting a woman member of Augusta. Where then is the case for an Hispanic member? (although for all I know, there well may be one). What about the Vietnamese? Are the Muslim minority any less deserving? If the rich and powerful are represented, where is the equal opportunity for the poor and powerless? Where would you have it end, Martha? When private persons organize private clubs, are they no longer able to choose their association?

There is a difference, Martha, between prejudice and preference. If I prefer to organize a club made up entirely of old, unpublished writers, who are all men with political points of view, that is my right and my preference. If I organize a club of old, unpublished writers of all genders and ethnic backgrounds, with political points of view and then refuse membership to an old, black woman unpublished writer with political points of view, then I am correctly and properly charged with prejudice. Even so, if my rather arcane club is private and subject to the membership rulings of a board, then the club is still well within its stupid right to act prejudicially.

Even if you win, Martha, what will you have accomplished? Successful extortion is extortion, none the less. Your attempted forced membership of a woman at Augusta is merely an embarrassment to women.

Actually, Martha, you are an embarrassment to women as well. Has that occurred to you?