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Masters 2012: New York Times Reporter Karen Crouse Says She'd Skip Augusta Until Women Allowed

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The 16th green is seen during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2012.
The 16th green is seen during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2012.

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The golf writer for the New York Times told a website Thursday she wouldn't want to cover the Masters again until Augusta National invites a woman to be a member.

"If it were left to me, which it seldom is in the power structure of writer versus editor, I'd probably not come cover this event again until there is a woman member," Karen Crouse told GOLF.com. "More and more, the lack of a woman member is just a blue elephant in the room."

Contacted by The Associated Press, Times sports editor Joe Sexton said the comments were, "completely inappropriate and she has been spoken to."

Crouse declined further comment.

The subject of women members at Augusta surfaced again recently when IBM, one of the tournament sponsors, appointed Virginia Rometty, as its new CEO. The last four CEOs at IBM, all male, were invited to be members.

Questions about membership were raised at Augusta National chairman Billy Payne's annual news conference Wednesday – the day before the Masters began. Crouse, who became the Times' golf writer last year, attended the briefing, along with more than 100 reporters. Though he was asked repeatedly about women being admitted, Payne maintained it was a club matter and declined to discuss it.

Crouse asked Payne what he would say to his granddaughters about the club not having women as members. Payne said it was a question that deals with membership and declined to answer. She followed up by saying it was a "kitchen-table question, a personal question." Payne responded: "Well, my conversations with my granddaughters are also private."

In a column published Thursday in the Times, Crouse criticized Augusta National, saying the club "founded in 1933 on the bedrock of segregation is obviously not so easily rebuilt – or even touched." Crouse wrote that she was the only woman at the news conference to ask a question and that she held her hand up for 20 minutes before she was called on.

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