Truth & Rumors: Hootie Johnson nominated Darla Moore for Augusta membership
With the recent shuffle coming out of Augusta, anyone with a memory capable of reaching back a decade or so has to ask: Wherefore art thou, Hootie?
Hootie Johnson, the former chairman of Augusta National -- a man who famously responded to public pressure in 2002 by saying the club might admit women on it's own time, and not "at the point of a bayonet" -- was behind the scenes. In fact, according to a report filed Wednesday by Michael Buteau of Bloomberg News, it was Johnson himself who nominated fellow South Carolinian Darla Moore for membership.
“She has a long connection with me," Johnson told Buteau over the phone. "I’ve had her as a guest at the club a number of times along with her husband. She’s a sweet lady.”
That "connection" includes hitting up Moore for a $25 million donation to what would become the Moore School of Business, according SI's own Alan Shipnuck:
"So in the fall of '97, I get an urgent call from Hugh McColl" -- a Friend of Hootie and a fellow Augusta National member -- "and he flew out in a private plane to meet me at some backwater restaurant in Florence [South Carolina], near the booming metropolis of 6,000 where I make my home. I thought he wanted to sell me some real estate or somesuch. When he walked in he introduced me to Hootie, and I went crazy. I was thuh-rilled to death, just charmed out of my socks. Then the ball drops. Hootie begins in that accent of his: 'Dah-luh, this is what we want to get done…' Hootie's point was that it was a statement that needed to be made, that a female from the rural deep South could succeed in big business. Finally, I said, 'Hootie, how much might this privilege cost me?'"
Shipnuck goes on to describe Johnson's looming presence in Moore's childhood household. Her father, the article explains, failed to recruit Johnson -- then a "crazy-legged tailback" -- to Clemson. He went to South Carolina instead. Her father's minor failure, coupled with Moore's tremendous success, got Moore in touch with Johnson all those years later. And now they have matching coats.