They would not permit blacks for decades; they refuse to allow women as members; they refuse to tell anyone who belongs to the corporation called "Augusta National," but we do know that many are captains of industry and others are corporate legends in their own minds who refuse to speak up against discrimination. Heck--their wives are not allowed!Where to begin. First, Mr. Payne was not - at least to my knowledge - a member of Augusta National when it was segregated. Yes, the club - like virtually all of the South - discriminated against blacks and other minorities and it is a tragedy of history. But the Masters has, over the years, worked to redeem itself from those past mistakes. Tiger Woods has become its most celebrated champion in 25 years, and he became that, in part, by building an image of himself that mirrored the integrity of the game itself.
The current chair spoke up yesterday. Did he speak out against past slights to African-Americans? Did he throw open the gates to women? Did he invite Barack Obama to preside at the opening?
No, this goof-nuts condemned Tiger Woods! A man who would have been barred from even walking the course just a few thousand pars ago.
As for inviting President Obama to preside over the opening; really? Mr. Garvey obviously knows nothing about the Masters. The opening ceremony honors golf's greats. Today it was Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus hitting the opening tee shots. Politics do not go with the azaleas or the pimento and cheese sandwiches. Apparently Mr. Garvey doesn't care about what Mr. Payne believes in his heart - something none of us know - so long as he puts Black men and women in prominent, but superficial roles. Right, because that's not racist or insulting at all...
We now know that Tiger's image was a lie. He did not live up to the image he sold to golf fans and sponsors alike. Had he been a single playboy for the last 10 years, no one would care about the string of mistresses, but instead cultivated an image of discipline and that of a devoted family man. It was a lie that Tiger profited from.
Mr. Payne's comments - and I watched them live - were harsh, but appropriate. Kids were in awe of him and wanted to be just like him. When your public image is nothing more than a lie, you deserve a certain amount of scorn and ridicule, but Payne's comments were not just scorn. He also expressed hope that Tiger makes good on his promise to be the man he wants to be and we thought he was. There is nothing wrong with that.
As for Augusta National not allowing women, Garvey is dead wrong. True, there are not currently any women members, but - as Augusta National has said many, many times - there is no policy barring women from becoming members. They haven't invited any to join yet, though rumors persist that former Justice O'Connor and former Secretary of State Rice may soon be invited. Still, women can and do play the course and use the facilities when they are guests of members.
Yes, the South has had it's problems with race in the past, but anyone who spends time down there, or knows people from there, knows that they have made tremendous strides. The old segregationist generations are dying out and with them a sad chapter of American history. Too bad Ed Garvey wants it to stay around so he has something to complain about.