Augusta National Welcomes First Female Members, Admits Condoleeza Rice And Darla Moore

August National Gold Club has admitted its first group of female members, and it only took the historic golf club 80 years. The club, which hosts the PGA’s Masters tournament, has come under increased scrutiny over the last several years for its refusal to admit female members. Among the first women invited to join the club are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore.

The admittance of the women comes after Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations demanded females be admitted into the club in 2002. After the organization took a stand against the clubs all-male membership, August National watched as sponsors fled the Masters for the next two years.

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne personally announced the memberships of Rice and Moore on Monday morning, proclaiming:

“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership. It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall. This is a significant and positive time in our club’s history and, on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome them and all of our new members into the Augusta National family.”

The club had been considering both Rice and Moore for membership for the last five years.

The move is yet another leap forward for August National, a club that didn’t even admit its first black member until 1990. The club is still very inclusive with approximately 300 members.

While females have never been allowed to join the club, they were allowed to play on its famous golf course as guests.

The debate over female members at August largely fizzled until 2011 when IBM appointed Virginia Rometty as its new CEO. The head of the tech firm had traditionally been a member of August National and the company is a Masters corporate sponsor. At this time, Rometty has not been announced as an August National member.

In a statement released by the club, Condolezza Rice said of her new membership:

“I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity. I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf. I also have an immense respect for the Masters Tournament and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world.”

Do you think women should be admitted to August National?