It feels almost primitive now, but this time last year, the world was abuzz with questions over whether or not the elite golf club would finally admit its first woman as a member. After Virginia Rometty became CEO of IBM (a sponsor of the Masters), questions circled about whether she would be Augusta’s first female inductee given that IBM’s CEOs have traditionally been invited to be members. She wasn’t: The all-men’s club waited until August, months after the April tournament, and then named former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Rice to have the honor instead.
Now as the annual azalea-laden tournament begins, we’re getting our first images of Condoleezza Rice in a green jacket. We’re hearing about her golf game — she’s apparently a 17 handicap who hit a 40-foot put to shoot par on 18. We’re getting commentary from the pros as she participates in a practice round (“She’s a phenomenal putter,” said Phil Mickelson, who called Rice “one of my favorite people.”)
And we’re left wondering, what was all that about?
That there was ever a debate over whether or not women should be members at Augusta feels like something from another era. Yes, it’s a private club. But seeing Rice in a green jacket looks so natural, so utterly normal, that it’s hard to see how this was ever, well, a thing. It almost seems as if the club’s delay had less to do with not wanting female members and more to do with not wanting it to appear that outside activists or the media were the ones calling the shots.
Of course, inviting two women to join a golf club is not all that progressive — it’s basically a baby step out of the dark ages. Kudos to Augusta for finally taking it; but at this point, seeing a woman in a green jacket feels a little like a non-event.
We live in a world where the person now leading the Secret Service is a woman. There is talk that a woman is the frontrunner to lead the FBI. And the most popular potential candidate for the next presidential election is a woman. When it comes to breaking barriers in the boy’s clubs, those achievements mean a lot more.