Monday, August 20, 2012

Augusta Makes the Change

What could be considered the most private golf club in the world, Augusta National Golf Club, made a big change to their membership. Over the past 80 years, Augusta National has failed to open its membership to women. This has changed. Former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and South Carolina businesswoman, Daria Moore, have been admitted to Augusta.

Augusta is best known for its privacy and for one of the four major golf tournaments it holds every year, the Masters. The Masters has an exclusivity to it that no other tournament can match. In the current days of huge television deals, and obnoxious amounts of sponsors. The Masters have kept their business with an enormous amount of privacy. Augusta only has three sponsors for the Masters. They include IBM, Exxon and AT&T. Augusta also tells CBS how much Masters coverage they can have and limit the commercials. Augusta allows four minutes of commercials per hour. This is four times less than any other tournament.

Augusta further proves its little care toward potential revenue dollars, with concession prices. Although it may seem like a small thing, $1 for cookies and coffee can't be beat. The seemingly care free attitude that is exhibited by Augusta when it comes to revenue has a deeper meaning. The lack of care puts the idea of admitting women to the golf club in perspective. Most companies give into social uproar because of finances. If customers don't approve of a companies decisions, the company risks losing customers. Augusta did not make the move because of social pressures.

An uproar came about recently when IBM promoted Virginia Rometty to CEO. Traditionally IBM CEO's were offered membership to Augusta. Virginia was the first female CEO for IBM, so Augusta was feeling pressure from the outside to extend her an invite. Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne did not give in, constantly saying that he would not talk about membership issues. Time will tell now if she gets in.

Final Thought
Augusta for years would constantly flex their muscles when it came to membership. The refusal to allow women to be members was a sticking point for many years. The change they made will not reflect a financial move, rather a move that is long overdue.


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