Some subtle suggestions for Augusta's new chairman

Updated: May 9, 2006, 5:58 PM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

    MEMORANDUM
    To: Mr. William Porter (Billy) Payne
    From: Fellow Augusta National Golf Club member
    Re: Some advice

Billy,

I am writing anonymously because we all know what happened to the last guy who offered suggestions to an Augusta National and Masters chairman. He was Vinatieri'd out of here so fast that he still has soft-spike marks on his billionaire butt. And while I agree he was wrong to buzz the first tee with his Gulfstream G350 (especially in the middle of Hootie's backswing), you certainly can understand his anger about being dismissed from the Club. After all, they were only suggestions.

Hootie Johnson, left, and Billy Payne
David Cannon/Getty ImagesBilly Payne (right) takes over for Hootie Johnson as head of Augusta National.

Anyway, congratulations on being named our sixth-ever chairman. Considering the average age of our membership is dead, it's nice to know we've got a "youngster'' in place. I remember -- sigh -- what it was like to be 58.

You're going to get a lot of these letters offering advice. Everybody has an opinion, including that boy Bill Gates, who ought to take some of that Microsoft money and buy Hank Haney from Tiger. I saw Gates at our Member-Guest. He swings like Steve Jobs set his arm hairs on fire.

But I digress.

We need to make some changes at Augusta National. You know it. I know it. And I'm not just talking about plusher towels in the locker room.

Here's my list:

Women Members
We are a private club, but we are also a public golfing treasure. Outgoing chairman Hootie Johnson, and some of our more medieval members, never have fully understood that relationship. Hootie saw small picture (Martha Burk and bayonets) instead of big picture (it's the right thing to do). So how about we join the 21st century and extend membership invitations to at least two women?

The temptation will be to wait a few years before discreetly inviting a woman to join Augusta National. But this isn't about deferring to Hootie, or agreeing with Burk. So instead of waiting because it looks better, let's start queuing up the potential candidates now. My six finalists: former Supreme Court associate justice Sandra Day O'Connor, LPGA legends Nancy Lopez and Kathy Whitworth, former USGA president Judy Bell, USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, and marketing and sponsorship executive Dockery Clark.

I'm guessing you already have your own short list of candidates. I'm also guessing your daughter has asked you in the past, "Daddy, how can you belong to a golf club that doesn't have any women members?'' Mine has, and I never have a very good answer. You know why? Because there isn't one.

Gary McCord
Yes, he's from California. Nothing we can do about that. But it's time for a presidential pardon. He's been banned from the CBS Masters broadcast since 1995, which is a longer sentence than some felons receive.

I say we give him a second chance. If he promises never to say, "bikini wax'' or "body bags,'' then we let him back in a broadcast tower. After all, he knows, plays and respects the game. And if he screws up, he only has himself to blame for putting our annual agreement with CBS in jeopardy.

A 9-hole Tuesday Tournament For Past Champions
Nothing against the practice rounds, but why not give the patrons a little more bang for their Masters Week buck? I'm in favor of anything that gets Arnie and Jack back on the course. Can you imagine the cool pairings possibilities? Fuzzy Zoeller and Tiger … Arnie and Jack … Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw … Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo.

The patrons and the players would love it.

Cherry Cobbler
I am so sick of eating the peach cobbler we serve.

Automatic Entry If You Win A PGA Tour Event
For nearly 30 years (1972-2000) we automatically invited anybody who won a PGA Tour event. OK, we got some mopes here once in a while, but for the most part, it was a good system. Then we decided to go with the World Rankings, which are great if you understand quantum physics or the BCS formula. Time to return to old reliable: PGA Tour winners (and other invitees, of course).

$2 Beers
Just kidding. Never get rid of the 1970-priced $2 brews. Or the cheapie (but surprisingly tasty) pimento cheese, egg salad, chicken breast, tuna salad or Masters club sandwiches.

The "Masters Ball''
Hootie was vindicated when it came to his decision to lengthen the course to 7,445 yards. But we can't keep tugging and pulling at the layout forever. So either we start growing actual rough (we can call it, "the third cut''), or we start developing a Masters-only ball to be used in the tournament. Otherwise, the bombers will win this thing almost every year.

The Green Jackets
Any chance we could switch to a double-breasted design? I've gained a few pounds drinking those $2 beers and, well …

Podcasts, Internet, More TV Coverage
"Amen Corner Live'' was a nice start for live streaming video. But why stop there? And is there some sort of Georgia state law that says we can't broadcast the entire 18 holes for each day of the Masters? More TV means more viewers, more advertisers, more money for our charities, more chances to threaten McCord.

Cellphone Policy
Instead of simply escorting all cellphone offenders off the premises, we should confiscate the cellies, tee them up on the driving range, and let players whack them with lob wedges.

Resist All Membership Inquiries By Donald Trump
He's already contacted me about becoming a member. Says he has a great idea to turn the Crow's Nest into "The Condos of Amateur Landings.'' I told him to join Putt-Putt of Augusta.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.

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