Augusta’s move to admit women called ‘overdue’
Published on Friday, May. 24, 2013 09:43PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 10:03PM EDT
COQUITLAM, B.C. - The first time Lorie Kane visited Augusta National Golf Club, she didn’t even think she’d get past the front gate. She did make it in – the club’s director of golf knew of Kane’s success on the LPGA Tour – but she definitely wasn’t asked to play a round.
It was 1997, and Kane was in between tournaments, heading from a successful weekend at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina to another event in Atlanta when her caddy suggested they knock on Augusta’s door, use Kane’s name as the entry lever. To Kane’s surprise, they knew who she was. They drove down Magnolia Lane and visited the club’s golf shop.
That’s about as close as most women – even the best female golfers in the world – would get to the hallowed grounds in rural Georgia. While women have been allowed to play the course as guests of men who are members, it is only this week that Augusta joined the 21st century by welcoming its first two female members.
Kane, now 47, called the move “well overdue” and did not offer particular praise to the club, which has always been decades behind society at large.
“It’s a start,” Kane said on Wednesday at the Vancouver Golf Club, which is staging the CN Canadian Women’s Open this week.
The two new Augusta members are Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State during George W. Bush’s first term as U.S. President, and Darla Moore, a successful financier from South Carolina whom Fortune magazine once called “Corporate America’s most feared female activist.”
“Women are moving up in the business world, and running great companies,” Kane said.
The predominant sentiments here this week among the biggest stars in women’s golf were: It’s about time, and I want to play the course. Michelle Wie perhaps has the best shot at a round, as she has a connection with one of the two new members. Wie once played at a course in Hawaii with Rice.
But Wie’s real goal is way bigger than just a casual round at Augusta.
“Playing in a Masters has always been a dream of mine,” said the onetime teenaged golf sensation, who has competed against men several times. “You’ve got to dream big. You never know, but it will always be a dream of mine.”
Yani Tseng, the world’s No. 1 woman, was somewhat reserved.
“I just feel very happy that they finally have let ladies as members,” the Taiwanese star said. “I’m looking forward to going and playing there, if I can. I’ve never played there, so I think it’s very interesting.”
Brittany Lincicome, the No. 12-ranked player from Florida, and defending CN Canadian Women's Open champion, first saw the Augusta news on Twitter when she woke up Monday morning.
“I was like, ‘Wow, is that right?’” Lincicome said. “I’m reading more and more and more, and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’”
Lincicome called Augusta’s move an important step for women in general.
“It’s great,” she said. “Not only for women’s golf. It shows how much the world is changing and evolving. ... It’s not a man’s world as much any more. It doesn’t have to be about golf. It can be whatever job you do. It’s really cool to see that it’s kind of in my era that I was a part of this. I think it’s amazing. I think it’s awesome.”
Like her peers, Lincicome hasn’t played the course but is ready if the call comes.
“If any of those nice ladies want to invite me out to play,” she said, “that would be amazing.”