Wednesday, March 28, 2012
A female member for Augusta?
ESPN.com news services
If the Augusta National Golf Club keeps with tradition, Ginni Rometty would be its first female member, according to a report Wednesday by Bloomberg News.
Since its founding in 1933, Augusta National has had only male members. Bloomberg reported that Augusta National has in the past invited the chief executive officer of IBM, which is a Masters Tournament sponsor, to be a member.
On Jan. 1, Rometty became the CEO of IBM, succeeding Sam Palmisano, who is a member of the club -- as were the three CEOs before him, according to Bloomberg.
Augusta National declined to comment, saying it does not discuss membership-related issues, Bloomberg reported. IBM also declined comment.
Tournament chairman Billy Payne, who has said in the past there is "no specific timetable" for ending the club's all-male membership policy, traditionally holds a news conference the day before Masters play begins. This year, it will be April 4. The former head of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic committee is certain to be asked about Rometty's membership chances.
The CEOs of the tournament's two other major sponsors, Exxon Mobil and AT&T, are both members of the club.
IBM runs the tournament's website, plus technology in the media center and for broadcast partners (ESPN covers the first two rounds of the event, set for April 5-6; CBS covers the weekend play).
Rometty, 54, is a golfer, according to Bloomberg, though she is more likely to scuba dive.
In 2002, a protest led by activist Martha Burk over the lack of women members at Augusta National caused the Masters to run without sponsorship.
At the time, an IBM spokesman said: ''The Masters and Augusta are separate and we're a sponsor of the Masters, which is open and public. We're not a sponsor of Augusta.''