‘No women at Augusta’ policy defended

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick May 31, 2012 05:57

A retired UK golf club manager has become the first to publicly defend Augusta National’s refusal to allow women to join since the issue exploded earlier this year.

Stewart Barnes, a former manager of Yelverton Golf Club in Devon, said that the policy was unimportant and no worse than any all-female club’s policy that excludes men.

The issue became a hot topic earlier this year when the world-famous golf club, which hosts the Masters every April, faced severe pressure because technology company IBM, which runs its website, appointed a woman – Virginia Rometty – as its CEO. Her four predecessors were all given membership of the club, but she was not. Both contenders in this year’s USA general election, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, then criticised Augusta National because no woman has ever been allowed to join the club in its 79-year history.

Several club managers and industry insiders also attacked the policy, while the editor of this website, Alistair Dunsmuir, wrote: “The problem for golf’s governing bodies is that stories like this reinforce negative stereotypes about the exclusivity of golf clubs. An inclusive image of the game is paramount to a healthy future. Male-only golf clubs and golf’s governing bodies should feel a duty to be custodians of the game and, with clubs closing and members converting to pay-and-play status in their droves, maybe the negative publicity for the last two biggest events [the 2011 Open Championship was also held at a single-sex golf club] on the golfing calendar could lead to a small but symbolic change?”

However, this provoked Mr Barnes, who is also a retired member of the Golf Club Managers’ Association, to comment.

He said: “Every year editors predictably latch onto the club’s policy of excluding women and write column inches about this issue. They castigate the club and its members, and other clubs who share the same views, for being sexist and living in another century.

“What they omit to mention is that women do this as well. There are women-only clubs and associations across the land, who chose to exclude men from their premises, but they are never castigated for their sexist policies! Do editors cast a ‘Nelsonian’ eye to this practice, because it does not fit their editorial?

“Should I start a crusade to allow men to join the Women’s Institute?

“Please, let us all see sense, allow clubs to set their own policies, regardless of gender, and find more important issues to campaign on.”

His comments have been supported by others who work in golf.

Vince Recine, a PGA Tour associate who is providing corporate hospitality to the 2013 Solheim Cup, said: “Women membership will happen when Augusta National wants it and not when the media wants it. Leave golf and its grand traditions alone.”

Roy Nix, founder of the Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals, added: “If we can tell Augusta who their members have to be, how long will it be before we start telling who you can marry, how many children you can have and what you can eat or not eat. It’s nobody’s business except the members at Augusta who they want as members. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to be where they are not wanted in the first place. Why would you want to join a club that doesn’t want you there?”


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick May 31, 2012 05:57
Write a comment


  1. Callum Turner June 1, 09:59

    can someone remind me what Golf stands for?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ian June 1, 09:58

    look at it this way there has to be at least one place a man can get away from a woman to relax.can’t do it at football any more

    Reply to this comment
  3. Brian Inglis June 1, 07:58

    Whatever you say Vivien……by all accounts I got off lightly last week, and your attack on me and one of my former employers was akin to you dismissively swatting off an annoying wasp. I’ve been advised not to hold my breath waiting for an apology from you……

    You have quite a reputation out there in GolfLand!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Ron Waller June 1, 06:31

    I wonder how Bubba Watson feels having his picture included with this headline? Surely a picture of the retiring president would have been more appropriate and relevant and, given his views, he is obviously only “retiring” in one sense.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Vivien Saunders May 31, 23:46

    I wonder what people would think if Augusta had a policy of no Blacks, no women, no Jews and no disabled. All minority groups can have their own organisations but it isn’t modern thinking. Personally I cannot see a problem with all women netball clubs, all men golf clubs and so on. The reality is that very few white, British, Protestant men have ever been discriminated against. It is just a little pathetic. Gone, thank God, are the days when I joined the PGA and the rules read, “Lady members shall have the same rights as men, save that they may not attend meetings, play in tournaments or vote.” As the PGA had a lady President/Patron – this did seem rather absurd. The Patron? Why, the Queen, of course. At least the rules excused here from having to attend any boring meeting!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Dee Morris May 31, 21:22

    What ever happened to sexual equality, surely there is some Human Rights Law they are breaking!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Andrew Edkins May 31, 11:29

    Power always seeks exclisivity. You don’t share it around. That’s how to keep power over another group.

    Reply to this comment
  8. theresa May 31, 11:07

    he is missing the point. Augusta’s membership are POWERFUL CEO’s making business deals. Women, in general, hold no such power.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Michael Ball May 31, 10:43

    Gentlemen only ladies forbidden. The first 4 letter are what to look at!!!

    Reply to this comment
  10. Andrew Edkins May 31, 10:38

    Heaven help us. At least he has retired.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Chris Bennington May 31, 10:34

    it a funny old world who gives two.let every one play golf augusta fancy but it has one thing wrong.its in america

    Reply to this comment
  12. Bev Waspe May 31, 10:23

    Guess the men will have to learn to multi task!!

    Reply to this comment
  13. Stephen McTaggart May 31, 10:18

    Have they all lost their golf balls (pun) when working in golf and find them in the rough when they finish??

    Reply to this comment
  14. Jerry WSL May 31, 10:13

    No women at a golf club, who will do the dishes and put the Hoover around!!!

    Reply to this comment
  15. Stephen McTaggart May 31, 10:13

    Why is it always retired golf managers that only speak out about things in golf? Would make sense to speak out before retiring

    Reply to this comment
  16. Gravel Walks May 31, 10:11

    Couln’t agree more. Women in golf (which I commend) and Men only golf clubs are not mutually exclusive.

    Reply to this comment
  17. Chris Bennington May 31, 10:10

    well hes got a point whats next you will be telling me thay can vote.

    Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:


For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: