This time, it’s not Martha Burk. It’s a sponsor. And not just any sponsor, either. So what will Augusta National Golf Club do now, as it clings to its traditions, no matter what most of the rest of us may think of them?
It’s an intriguing question raised by a Bloomberg report about whether Augusta National, home to The Masters Tournament, will extend a membership invitation to the new CEO of IBM, one of its three sponsors. The last four IBM CEOs were members at Augusta, going back more than 30 years. But the newest boss, Ginni Rometty, who was named to the post this year, also happens to be first female CEO in the company’s 100-year history. She also happens to play golf, though not regularly, according to the report. Then again, that’s hardly a deal-breaker for many of the other invitees at Augusta, still an all-male club despite years of protests and criticism and, yes, women on its exclusive waiting list.
These days, it’s Billy Payne — not ol’ “Hootie” Johnson – whose job it is to deftly avoid the membership questions as chairman of Augusta National. (And somebody else’s to make sure female reporters aren’t barred from doing their jobs.) But I’m guessing we’ll be hearing more about this topic next week.