Vice President Quayle yesterday abruptly canceled a second day of golf at an all-white private club in Pebble Beach, Calif., amid angry charges by local civil rights leaders that he had insulted blacks by playing there.
Quayle, accompanied by Secretary of the Air Force Donald B. Rice and L. Ebersole Gaines, U.S. consul general in Bermuda, spent Thursday playing 18 holes at the exclusive Cypress Point Golf Course. The club became embroiled in controversy last fall when it withdrew as a host of the 1991 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament rather than submit to a new anti-discrimination policy of the Professional Golfers' Association Tour that would have required it to seek out black members.
Quayle's office said yesterday that the vice president, who is an avid golfer, was "unaware" of the controversy surrounding the club and had been assured that it does not discriminate when he accepted an invitation to play there.
"But perceptions are important and the vice president is unwilling to leave any impression that he condones any form of discrimination," said the statement released by Quayle's press secretary, David Beckwith. "He has therefore canceled his round of golf today and returned to Colorado . . ." where the vice president has been vacationing.
However, a spokesman for Rice said the Air Force secretary had no regrets about playing at the club and did not plan to resign his membership to it.
"When Dr. Rice joined the club in 1983, it had a nondiscrimination clause in its bylaws and it still does today," said Lt. Col. Darrell Hayes.
The disclosure of Quayle's game at the club spurred criticism that he had displayed an insensitivity to blacks' concerns.
"It's inconceivable that the vice president of the United States would not have the staff able to investigate the community," said Sam Karas, a Monterey County supervisor, who represents a minority district in the county. "People have the right to belong to any club they want. But this is the vice president of the United States. It's like an affront to the black community."
Asked how Quayle could be unaware of the highly publicized banning of Cypress Point from the PGA tournament, his chief of staff William Kristol told the Associated Press: "It proves he's not spending time reading the golf pages."
Golf club membership policies became controversial last summer when civil rights groups announced a protest of the nationally televised PGA Championship after the founder of the Shoal Creek Country Club in Birmingham, Ala., the scheduled site of the tournament, publicly acknowledged that the all-white private club barred blacks as members or guests.
The protest was canceled when Shoal Creek agreed to accept a black businessman, but it provoked debate throughout the golf world over the membership practices of elite private clubs where many tournaments are held. PGA Tour, the organization of playing professionals, adopted its new anti-discrimination policy in August, declaring that it would not conduct any of its events at country clubs that have "exclusionary or discriminatory policy or practices," said PGA Tour spokesman Sid Wilson.
Wilson said that the mere absence of any minority members was not by itself evidence of discrimination. But the ban on playing could be activated when a club made "no positive effort to rectify the situation, where there is not an ongoing search for minority membership," said Wilson.
After the policy was announced, however, Cypress Point became one of only five out of 118 clubs that decided that it could not live with the new policy and withdrew as a host of next year's AT&T Pebble Beach tournament, Wilson said. Pebble Beach is traditionally played simultaneously at three Monterey area golf clubs, and Cypress Point has been one of the hosts every year since 1947.
John Love, vice president of Cypress Point, said there is a five-year membership waiting list with more than 50 people waiting to join. Love said he did not know if any of them are black, but added, "I don't think we're going to change our membership procedures" by skipping over some applicants to get a minority member.
Special correspondent Jill Walker in California contributed to this report.