Photo Credit: Gustavo Caballero/WireImage ; Brett Flashnick/AP Photo
Would you want to be a member of a club that had previously always rejected people who looked like you? Evidently, Condoleeza Rice would.
The 57-year-old former national security adviser and secretary of state, along with 58-year-old South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore -- the highest-paid woman in the banking industry and the first to be profiled on the cover of Fortune magazine, according to The New York Times -- are the first two female members of Augusta National Golf Club, the private club that hosts the Masters and has made a point of excluding women from its rolls until now. (It only accepted its first black member in 1990.)
As part of today's announcement, the club released a canned statement from Rice that said, "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.”
Augusta, led by chairman Billy Payne, appears to prefer to evolve its business practices slowly and only when it feels good and ready, rather than in response to duress.
The club's policies had recently become a revived hot-button topic of discussion after I.B.M. selected a woman, Virginia Rometty, as its chief executive this spring. The previous four people in that position, all men, had been offered membership, according to The Times. Rometty was not invited, prompting comments from even President Obama and Mitt Romney.
Only now comes the announcement of the club's first two female members; women had previously been permitted to play only as guests of members.
Rice and Moore are well-known boundary breakers and way pavers, so it's hardly a surprise that women of their influence and esteem are the first to receive the rarefied invitations.
But if Augusta National came calling -- no matter how expert your golf swing -- would you really want to play at a club with such a regressive history?
Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and iVillage's Chief Election News Blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.