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March 28, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Will new IBM CEO become Augusta's first female member?

In the nearly 80 years since Augusta National opened for business, the golf course and the Masters tournament, which began in the second year of the club's existence, have undergone many changes. But throughout its storied history one thing has remained the same at Augusta National: no woman has ever been admitted as a member.

Most golf fans probably remember the hubbub in 2002 when Martha Burk, who was at the time the chairperson of the National Council of Women's Organizations, claimed that excluding women was sexist and challenged the club and its chairman, Hootie Johnson, to change the policy.

Though the Masters tournament was telecast with no commercials in '03 and '04 due to the controversy, things eventually went back to normal at Augusta National, and to this day there has never been a female member of the club. But will that soon change?

As Bloomberg News reported today, the club faces a dicey situation because IBM, one of the tournament's three main sponsors, now has a female CEO. 

Will International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)’s Ginni Rometty be able to wear a green jacket at the Masters Tournament?

As Augusta National Golf Club prepares to host the competition next week, it faces a quandary: The club hasn’t admitted a woman as a member since its founding eight decades ago, yet it has historically invited the chief executive officer of IBM, one of three Masters sponsors. Since the company named Rometty to the post this year, Augusta will have to break tradition either way.

Rometty plays golf only occasionally, according to Bloomberg, and prefers to scuba dive. Spokespeople for both the Masters and IBM refused to comment on the situation.

News and Notes

The Big Miss A Big Hit: Hank Haney's tome, "The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods," has reached No. 9 on Amazon's best seller list. Regardless of whether Haney broke the player-coach code of honor, it's clear that people want to know about his time with Woods. The book is trending upward, but will it be able to challenge the "Fifty Shades" and "Hunger Games" series?  

LPGA on Golf Channel: The LPGA and Golf Channel just agreed to a three-year extension of the network's exclusive rights to the Kraft Nabisco Championship (remember Dinah Shore?), the season's first major. LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan said: "Based on the strong promotional advertising, the incredible tournament coverage and storytelling, and the record-high viewership results that occurred in 2011, we're excited to partner with Golf Channel and continue showcasing the LPGA's first major." 

DL III to miss Masters: Davis Love III, who finished runner-up at the Masters in '95 and '99, will not be present at the proceedings next week. Love, who qualified for the tournament last year after failing to do so for the previous three, needed a big performance at this week's Shell Houston Open in order to earn another chance at a green jacket. Unfortunately for the former PGA Championship winner, he cracked a rib last week at Bay Hill and has withdrawn from the Houston event. Better luck next year, Davis. 

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