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Augusta National

April 10, 2011

As I sit here watching the 2011 Masters on television, (no, actually, I enjoy watching golf) I began to think about past lectures and their focus on women and people with disabilities. the Masters, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the four major golf tournaments played annually. The Masters is played, unlike some tournaments, at the same course every year. This course is Augusta National, one of the most beautiful and historic courses in the country. However, Augusta National is also infamous for another reason, as it is one of the few courses in the U.S. that does not allow membership to women. Women are allowed to visit the course and watch the Masters be played, but are not allowed to play it themselves. In today’s day and age, this seems preposterous. The chairman of the club maintain that their course is similar to any fraternity, sorority, boy scout group or girl scout group, in that gender is a reasonable means of acceptance.

The Masters highlights an interesting question about gender, sports and todays society. What qualifies equality? Is it allowed to attempt to level the playing field? While all sports are designed to have as equal a game as possible, why have they not tried to do so between genders? The reason seems to be that there are obvious physical disparities between the two genders. Men are typically bigger, stronger and faster than girls. Mens basketball has dunking, womens has lay-ups. These differences are across sports. However, why does this prevent them the opportunity of trying? Brittney Griner is breaking down many of these barriers. She is the 6′ 8” sophomore superstar from Baylor. For those who haven’t seen, Griner is revolutionizing the girls game in ways many others couldn’t. Griner is a shot-blocking, dunking machine. She has bigger hands than LeBron James, and a longer wingspan than Andrew Bynum.

Griner has showed that a girl can play with the flare and high-flying game of many of the men. So back to the Masters. Years ago, young women’s golfer Michelle Wie tried playing on the men’s tour, the PGA. She did, with little success. Unfortunately for her, this confirmed what many narrow-minded, ignorant men had predicted: that girls couldn’t hang with the guys. And maybe they can’t. But they shouldn’t have to. Equality is to have the same opportunities as men to succeed. Women have their own NBA and PGA. While these are less popular than their male counterparts, this is more to do with society’s stigmas and less with their ability. There is a reason women’s sports have different rules. We seek excellence in our professional sports and from our athletes. So give women a chance to demonstrate their excellence. They don’t need to be able to play on the PGA tour or compete for the Masters at Augusta National. But they most definitely need to be allowed to play for a LPGA title at Augusta National.

  1. Josh Platko permalink
    April 11, 2011 1:23 AM

    It was really great to read this post, especially seeing it from another guys perspective. Even though the Masters and Augusta National go back to way before our time, they need to get with modern day society. I can see where they come from and keeping their “class” by not allowing women to play there. John Mill most certainly would not be a fan of the chairmen and the board there in Augusta. As one of the premier feminist leaders of the time, Mill believed that women needed to be treated as they should. And that is of course we respect and equal opportunity as men. Another Mill belief that would have alternated Augusta’s choice to not allow women would be the voice of an opinion. Golf, coming from the acroynm (Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden). Only one small girl needed to say “we want to play” and they would probably get stuck in the head of one man. Soon a whole flood would have formed, where women would be able to play, and Augusta would not have the same rules they have today. There may even be a Women Masters played there.

    • Nick Majie permalink
      April 11, 2011 1:09 PM

      This is a rather interesting post and perspective on male and female sports. I agree that a women’s league and a men’s league for sports is almost essential. If these gender leagues were not created, then there were be problems between men and women. If women who are inherently less physically built than men competed in the same arena together, then women would be less able to compete with the men. The women would be upset and desire change by competing in a separate arena. These two leagues, separated by gender, give both men and women the ability to succeed at their own talents; however, these leagues are not equal. The “separate but equal” ideal does not breed equality. Mill would also argue this, too. He would be in favor of creating a co-gender league that enables women to test out their own nature to see what they can and can’t do. Through a conjoined league, women would be able to compete with men and possibly challenge men which is a utilitarian ideal. With the competition from women, there will be greater development for humanity. More people = more competition = more development (individually and in society). Mill would not be in favor of allowing a “separate but equal” doctrine because according to him, this separation is what leads to inequality. Therefore, the creation of both the LPGA and PGA tours oppose the feminist ideals of Mill.

  2. lapinsk12 permalink
    April 12, 2011 11:57 AM

    As first glance women not being able to play at Augusta National does seem to be a bit out of line, but when the chairman says it’s similar to any fraternity or sorority or any other accepted and normal gender exclusive clubs, he makes it seem as if its not such a bad thing. The course was designed for men player’s and when originally designing the course they most likely did not include the thought of women’s tees. If added now it would take away from the beauty and splendor of Augusta National and that wouldn’t be fair to any fan of golf. Although I have to agree that if women want to play there they should be able to and it doesn’t matter what you would shoot whether it be 2 under par or 30 over, jsut playing at Augusta National is all you could ask for in a round of golf. If women want to hit it from the men’s tees then let them, its Augusta National, an American treasure and all should be allowed to share in the surreal experience that is Augusta National.

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