IBM Sponsors The Masters — But Its Female CEO Isn’t Allowed At Club Where The Tournament’s Held
5:30 pm, March 28th | by Amy Tennery
For the last decade, IBM has been an official sponsor of the Masters Golf Tournament. It has a hospitality cabin on the green and its CEOs are regulars at the club where the tournament is held, the Augusta National Golf Club. It’s a place where one can wear a green jacket and do golf things, like getting functionally drunk while swinging metal rods around. It’s good times.
But with the Masters around the corner (the beginning of April), Augusta Golf Club has a rather awkward conundrum on its hands: IBM’s new CEO is a woman — and women aren’t allowed to be members at its club. Oh dear.
This, of course, has never been an issue for Augusta, IBM or the Masters, since IBM has never had a female CEO. But Virginia Rometty took the helm the first week of January. And now they’re forced to reckon with this whole “we didn’t want chicks around and now, oh crap, one of them has the power to take a bucketload of money from us if we offend her” issue.
Bloomberg reached out to Yale University senior research scholar Marcia Chambers, who described the situation as “a dilemma.” Yes, it is a dilemma. Bloomberg also noted that Augusta Golf Club accepted its first black member in 1990, at which time
the earth imploded in on itself in a fiery reckoning things there stayed pretty much at the status quo. Rich people playing golf, and all that. Of course, that dude is Ron Townsend, president of Gannett television, proving that no amount of country club membership bigotry can’t be overcome with a hefty chunk of cash. It truly is Obama’s America.
Meanwhile, the Golf.com blog points out that this isn’t the first time Augusta National’s total misog– oh, I’m sorry, I mean ‘predilection’ — has been pointed out. They note that former National Council of Women’s Organizations chair Martha Burk started a bit of a “hubbub” (their word) in 2002 when she “claimed” that the no-women policy is sexist. Of course, it’s tough to really call it a “claim” when she’s right.