The question I am frequently asked is, "Are there some subjects so sensitive that you can't make fun of them?"

Yes, there are. A major one is the question of allowing women to be members of the Augusta National Golf Club. The issue is a religious one, since it has to do with the beliefs of those who play golf and those who play God.

The male members of the club believe it is a mortal sin to allow women to play golf on their heavenly turf and that those females trying to break down the rules are infidels.

It would probably not be an earthshaking matter except that the Masters, the most important golf tournament in our culture, is played at Augusta and shown on television by CBS around the world.

The Augusta members maintain that a club is a club is a club, and if they decide not to have women, it's God's will.

One member, who would not speak on the record, said, "We have nothing against the other sex. Some of our best friends are women. But our club is a male sanctuary. It is a place where we can tell off-color stories, lie about our golf game and play gin rummy without some female looking over our shoulders."

He continued, "That is why every time before we tee off we say a prayer, thanking the Lord for letting us mix with our own kind."

On the other side, NOW, the National Organization for Women, says, "Augusta is more than a men's club -- it's a national institution and is brought into millions of people's homes by television. The Masters Tournament sells soap, life insurance, golf balls, beer and after-shave lotion.

"If CBS wants us to buy all the things they advertise, then it can't be a private club."

Added into the mix is the pressure by women on professional golfers. The golfer getting the most flak is Tiger Woods, because he is part African American, and the women are telling him he should not play. So far Woods says he doesn't want to be involved.

The NOW lady said, "Tiger does not know that women buy American Express Travelers Checks as often as men do. And that is what Tiger is now selling."

One of the troubles with allowing women into a golf club is that since there is so much divorce going on the question arises as to who gets the club membership when the breakup becomes legal. Everyone knows you can't allow the ex-wife and the new wife into the same clubhouse.

I dealt with the matter some time ago in regard to tennis players. I said the winner gets the membership.

The same thing could go for golfers. The new wife and the ex would play a sudden-death match. The winner would order margaritas and the loser would have to throw her putter into the lake.

Having said all this, you can understand why the Augusta National Golf Club controversy is too sensitive for me to write about.

No matter which side I take, the editor would probably spike the column.

(c)2002 Tribune Media Services