PGA Tour Keeps Exception for Masters
The PGA Tour does not allow courses with a discriminatory membership policy to host its tournaments, but Commissioner Tim Finchem said it would continue to make an exception with Augusta National, which does not permit women as members.
“We have concluded a number of times now, and we have certainly not moved off of this, that we are not going to give up the Masters as a tournament on our tour,” Finchem said Wednesday. He added, “It’s too important.”
Finchem was asked later to clarify the PGA Tour’s position. “What we’re saying is, that goes back to what we were asked to do a few years ago,” Finchem said, alluding to a controversy before the 2003 tournament. “We were asked publicly, ‘Why wouldn’t we disengage recognizing the Masters as part of the PGA Tour?’ At that time, we said we would not do that. I’m just saying our position on that hasn’t changed.”
Augusta’s failure to include women became an issue this year as I.B.M., a tournament sponsor, is run by Virginia Rometty, who has not been offered membership. I.B.M.’s four previous C.E.O.’s — all men — had membership.
“We have a policy that says that when we go out and do a co-sanctioned event, we are going to play it at a club that is as open to women members, open to minority members, etc., and we follow that policy carefully,” Finchem said. In the case of Augusta National, he added, “we just elect to continue to recognize them as an official money event on the PGA Tour because we think it’s that important to golf, so we don’t get to determining whether their policies are right or wrong.”
The tour’s anti-discriminatory policy dates to 1990 and was instituted to address the fact that some tournament sites did not allow minority members.
After Finchem’s question-and-answer session, he was joined on the podium by Joe Barrow, the son of the black heavyweight boxer Joe Louis, and Michael Sneed, who is also black. They were announcing Johnson & Johnson’s sponsorship for the First Tee, a program aimed at growing golf’s diversity.
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