06/08/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Who Died and Made Billy Payne Pope?

William Porter Payne, better known as Billy, the chairman of the Augusta National Golf Course, home of the Masters tournament, seems to think that that entitles him to act as if he were the chairman of the board of the "Masters of the Universe". In a forty-two second clip, he manages to insult Tiger Woods, himself, and the entire Augusta National Country Club by delivering a condescending sermon to the world's greatest golfer (who happens to be honoring the Masters by making it his first stop on his return to golf and probably increasing the tournament's television audience by 50 percent).

I would not be so offended by this had I not known a woman who traveled with the national golf tour for several years while working for a magazine that covered the sport. After being constantly hit on by many of the "best golfers in the world", watching them take their pleasure with other women -- like sailors with girlfriends at every port (golfers seem to find girlfriends at every course) -- she quit her job and went into another line of work. The hypocrisy, the pretense, of love and loyalty when wives were around and the womanizing after they left had become too much for her. She felt as if she were an accomplice to their infidelity and she left the tour.

Not to be a hypocrite myself, I remember that in the sixties, when women were just beginning to get good jobs in journalism, we reminded them of what were then called "New York Times rules" -- "what happens west of the Potomac, stays west of the Potomac". Female reporters who went on the road may have been close friends with the wives of many of the men who were on the road with them, but none of them brought back stories about who was doing what to whom while they were out of town. I think that's a good rule, and I think by and large, we're just as well off not knowing what golfers do when they're on tour. I do know that several others of the world's best golfers were notorious within the community for indulging themselves whenever they could.

Tiger Woods got caught, and he is paying dearly for it. So is golf, just look at the ratings. The last thing he or golf needs is Payne's pious preaching as he joins in the pretense that great athletes must be saintly in order to merit public adulation. Rock stars and sports stars are like catnip to groupies, and most of them succumb to temptation. What Tiger did is a sin he shares with many others, and he has acknowledged it. He doesn't need the likes of Billy Payne, who profits from his presence, to condemn him for his misdeeds.

Billy Payne is a hypocrite and the other Augusta Golf Course members should call him on it.