Friday, April 6, 2012

Masterfully contemptible

The Augusta National Golf Club, annual host of the PGA's prestigious Masters Tournament, does not permit female members. Every year the feckless press drags out its tsk-tsk stories lamenting that fact. And every year, the issue is put back into cold storage as soon as the last hole is played. A blow-the-doors-down, Pulitzer-worthy exposé is way overdue. (That's a hint, New York Times.) Meanwhile, "livin' in the high cotton," as they say in the South, continues apace for the rich Good Old Boys. And they're dead set against womenfolk spoiling their fun. Yes, yes -- as a private club, it has the legal right to discriminate. As writers Michael McCarthy and Erik Brady observed in USA Today some years ago, the club is "a golfing version of Yale's Skull and Bones: a secret society of the well-heeled that answers to one. You don't apply for membership. You get called — if you have the right combination of money, influence and friends." And that, one supposes, is the allure for its 300-odd members. Yet, Jim Crow was contemptibly de rigueur until the very late 20th century. Before 1983, the staff caddies assigned to pro players were, yes, all black. Hell, the club couldn't bring itself to admit an African American to its all-alabaster ranks until 1990. Augusta's "No Females" rule -- like its former "No Coloreds" rule -- is archaic, abhorrent and, well, just plain stupid. Then again, so too are more than a few of my fellow brethren. Just ask any woman.

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