THE BLOG

The Green Jacket Has A Stain

04/09/2012 05:17 pm ET | Updated Jun 09, 2012

It got ugly at The Masters again this year. But not because of what happened on the course.

On a beautiful Sunday in Augusta, the immaculate greens and fairways were bathed in sunshine. The tournament was decided by a two hole sudden death playoff with an emotional Bubba Watson executing a nearly impossible shot to defeat the gracious Louis Oosthuizen. And the field was richly diverse, with players from several different nationalities and ethnicities.

But the fabled green jacket presented to the winner was stained once again by the refusal of the Augusta National Golf Club to admit women as members.

And although the CEO of IBM is traditionally offered membership, Virginia Rometty discovered the grass ceiling at Augusta National is harder to crack than the glass ceiling of corporate America.

Yet by refusing to challenge the gender discrimination at the club, IBM and Ms. Rometty sent a discouraging signal to the other women employees at the company and elsewhere, that in 2012, Augusta National can still set the clock back to the dark ages.

Since its inception, Augusta National has been a restricted club, banning Jews and African-Americans until recent years. And today, club officials desperately and defiantly hold on to that last shred of discrimination, by not allowing women to become members.

Yes, private clubs can get away with this, but why should the PGA put up with it? Why can't they institute a policy that bans tournaments from being held at clubs that practice discrimination? And why don't sponsors like IBM pressure the club to do the right thing?

The final day of The Masters was fittingly held on Easter Sunday, because this is a club and a tournament that is inexplicably revered with an almost religious devotion, as if the fairways, greens and bunkers are sacred ground.

But despite its natural beauty, and the inspiring spectacle of superb athletes often performing heroically, the Augusta National Club is an ugly place because of its immoral and sexist policies. No miraculous shot can change that. The attitudes of the closed minded club officials must change immediately. If not, the PGA, the tournament sponsors and even the players themselves must take the issue of equality into their own hands.