I’m a week late in joining the Augusta conversation thanks to travel but have read a decent amount of commentary and put a lot of thought into it.
I think it was a smart decision for Augusta to allow female members because it’s the one I would’ve made. If I were a member there, I’d welcome female members for the more social environment. If I were running the place, I’d welcome them because it’s smart for business as it doubles the pool of potential members and it’s smart politically.
I do not, however, agree with the pressure put on them to do it. There are many social clubs in America that “discriminate” based on gender, ethnicity and other things like income and prestige. It’s right that they’re allowed to do so. They’re private and don’t involve access to jobs/education, fair pay, political equity or any of the other areas where women and men should be equal as human beings.
I can’t join the Belizean Grove. So what? I’ll very likely never be allowed to join Augusta even though I’m a white male because I’m not rich and powerful. I’m okay with that.
If women want to join a spectacular golf club in Georgia, they’re welcomed to create one. They can make it female-only if they want. That’s the beauty of America.
The entrepreneur in me has listened to Martha Burke for all these years and thought – if I were her, I’d transfer all of this time and energy into creating an amazing women’s-only club that rivals Augusta and use THAT as an example of why women are equal to (and in many ways superior) to men. That would’ve been a powerful entrepreneurial approach to this situation.
This is how all successful entrepreneurs I know look at the situations they find unsatisfactory. They identify the problem, create an innovative solution, determine if there are enough like-minded people to develop a market and then go for it. They don't bang on the door of the incumbent and demand change. And, on a tangentially relevant topic, one of the beautiful things about entrepreneurship is that it’s almost completely agnostic to gender, ethnicity, age and everything else besides brains, guts and luck.
I applaud Augusta because I agree with their decision. But I also believe that other male-only clubs like Cypress Point and Pine Valley are not doing anything legally or ethically wrong. If their membership wants it that way, they have the freedom to do so. And if you disagree, you have the freedom to do something about it.
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