Augusta National has never caved to money

August, 20, 2012
8/20/12
12:52
PM ET
You've heard the story over and over again. Business takes a stand on an issue; public exerts pressure on the business; business gives in.

Some people who heard the news Monday that Augusta National was finally admitting women, after nearly 80 years in business, might have jumped to that conclusion.

Don't be fooled.

Augusta National has showed us over and over again that the only green they care about is the jacket.

The club doesn't care that Masters badges sell for thousands of dollars. It doesn't max out sponsorships -- with only three: IBM, Exxon and AT&T -- and it tells CBS how much Masters coverage it can have and how many commercials it can sell. The four minutes per hour of spots is at least four times fewer than the inventory of any other major tournament.

All you have to do is look at the Masters concession prices and you can make the argument that Augusta National tries harder than almost any other business in America not to make money.

This year, you could get cookies for $1, a cup of coffee for $1 or a muffin for $1. Really want to splurge? Go for that imported beer for $3.75.

Not bowing down to the almighty dollar created a problem for anyone who felt that excluding women was unfair. When money isn't a factor, there's little you can do. When activist Martha Burk made her stand in 2003 and 2004, Augusta National simply held the Masters without sponsors, so that Burk's force on them could ease.

It got uncomfortable again this year, as newly installed IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is a woman and CEOs of Masters sponsors usually get an invitation to be a member. Augusta National weathered the storm and, when it made its announcement Monday, did not include Rometty as one of the first two female members.

Why?

Because Augusta National doesn't want to be pressured by the money, and it's important to prove that it wasn't.

By not including Rometty and announcing Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as the first two female members more than four months after the Masters, Augusta National chairman Billy Payne is essentially saying that the club didn't make the change because anyone told it to.

Not many businesses can take a controversial stand and, to some extent, choose the timetable as to when they want to make a change.

Taking the money out of the equation allowed Augusta National to make it to today, a point in time where saying "no" just got to be too much work.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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