Has private lost its meaning?
Private: adj; designed or intended for ones exclusive use.
The Augusta National Golf Club (ANGC) is a private organization and should be allowed to exclude whomever they want. After Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Womens Organizations (NCWO), wrote a letter to Hootie Johnson, chairman of the ANGC, tensions rose in the quiet air of Augusta. Burk is pressuring the ANGC to allow women to join the club. Surprisingly, though, Burk does not have many allies among female golfers, and few women are supporting her cause.
Because it is a private organization, the ANGC cannot be legally compelled to change its membership. A restaurant, though privately owned, is open to the public and as such must serve all who have the means to pay. But because the Augusta National is a private club and not open to the public, it is not forced to admit everyone.
Although by invitation only, women have, in fact, played on the golf course. Women, wives, daughters and female guests of male members have full access to the golf course and facilities at Augusta National. Women play an estimated 1,000 rounds of golf a year there. Augusta National is highly selective, having fewer than 300 members. Some of the worlds top golfers are not members of Augusta National.
So the ANGC is excluding many, not just women. It is an exclusive organization that seeks to retain its prestige. If the organization let anyone and everyone in, the exclusivity and the esteem of the club would be lost.
Burk is only targeting the Augusta National because she yearns for more exposure and recognition in the media. There are far more important situations that yearn for the equality of women. One such issue is the quality of life for the battered women in Afghanistan. The NCWO is currently working with Congress to ensure human rights for the battered and oppressed women of Afghanistan. This is an example of fighting the good fight. The NCWO is also pressuring the private, all-male Augusta National Golf Club to allow women members. This is whining. The NCWO is delegitimizing its cause by waging a war that has absolutely no bearing on the real fight for womens rights.
To worsen things, Burk has the audacity to suggest that the Masters be moved to another location simply because they do not accept woman into the club. There is no need to threaten the Augusta National because Burk will not get her way. Much of Augustas history is molded through the growth of the Masters Tournament. Augusta has given the Masters a permanent and widely publicized home. Held anywhere else, the Masters would not be the same.
Although it is the 21st century and equality is entitled between men and women, the ANGC also has the right to remain a private organization and has the right to make its own decisions. If the government funded the Augusta National, then the NCWO would have a good case against them. The Augusta National is bound to admit a woman in the future, but it is the clubs right to decide when.
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