Thursday, April 10
Burk to members: Pick a side
ATLANTA -- Martha Burk called on Augusta National members to
take a stand against Hootie Johnson and turn in their green jackets
if they don't agree with him on the issue of women members.
Trying to regain the momentum in her fight to get a woman
admitted to Augusta National, Burk said Thursday that club members
who disagree with the club chairman should resign.
''If they do not agree with this policy, they must resign their
memberships,'' Burk said. ''The choice is to stand up and support
Hootie, or stand down.''
A day after more than 60 members appeared with Johnson in a
public display of solidarity, Burk said it's time for all of the
300 or so members to publicly declare where they stand.
Particularly, she said, the corporate executives among the
membership need to be accountable to their stockholders over the
''If they believe Augusta National is right to continue
excluding women, then I challenge them to hold a news conference
and tell us publicly,'' Burk said.
The head of the National Council of Women's Organizations issued
the challenge at a press conference with other supporters.
She was joined in a teleconference by the Rev. Jesse Jackson,
who pledged his support but said he wouldn't be at Saturday's
scheduled protest in Augusta.
Jackson said protesters from his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition plan to
have their voice heard and said arrests could occur if they are not
allowed close enough to the gates of Augusta National.
A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the plan by local
authorities to have the protests limited to a 5.1-acre site about a
half-mile from the course.
''Plan B is arrest if plan A is denied,'' Jackson said.
Burk said she won't give up despite the court's refusal to
overrule the Augusta sheriff's authority to deny her a permit to
protest at the club's main gate.
She said a meeting was scheduled with Sheriff Ronald Strength on
Friday to decide where the different protest groups could picket.
She called the protest lot ''the pit'' and said she hasn't ruled
out sending a handful of protesters to the gate.
Jackson said his group stands behind Burk's organization on the
issue of women members.
''The real issue is the PGA should not in fact support the
Masters being held in Augusta so long as it is gender
discriminatory,'' Jackson said. ''Just as the PGA should not
participate in apartheid South Africa, they should not participate
in gender apartheid in Augusta.''
Jackson had harsh words for Johnson.
''He is swimming upstream against history,'' Jackson said,
noting that women have been allowed in all levels of government and
the judicial system. ''All of this controversy could be ended if
Hootie joined this century.''
On Wednesday, Johnson said his club has no timetable for
admitting a woman member and that the policy was backed by all club
''It's not my issue alone,'' Johnson said. ''If I drop dead this
second, our position will not change.''
Masters a co-ed affair
She may never wear the green jacket of an Augusta National Golf Club member, but Mary Boldig would still rather stand at Amen Corner than in Martha Burk's corner.
Boldig, 49, came to The Masters by herself this year from
Tullahoma, Tenn., where she owns a printing business. She's an avid
golfer who's played courses in Scotland and Ireland -- at men-only
clubs, she notes.
Like nearly everyone attending the tournament, Boldig knows all
about Burk's crusade against Augusta National's all-male
membership. But she's not about to miss a chance to see Tiger Woods
win his third-straight Masters to picket a private club that admits
only the super elite.
''It's never a possibility I'd be a member. To be a member,
you've got to be somebody,'' Boldig said Thursday, when rain
postponed the Masters opening round. ''What's sad now is, whenever
they do get a woman member, she's going to think, 'I'm just a
The club's members may all be men, but The Masters is definitely
a coed affair. And there's no sign that women are boycotting
because of Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's
Women are all over the course this week, some tagging along with
husbands, others joining friends for a golf week. They're
applauding players from the galleries and spending hefty sums in
the pro shop.
''If I can have my little ticket and they'll let me come and
watch and buy, I'm happy,'' said Linda Spradley of Augusta who
dropped $500 on an official Masters watch, charm and sweaters --
some for her husband but ''mostly for me.''
T-shirts, caps and buttons with slogans bashing Burk or
ballyhooing Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson have also been
a hit with women fans.
Blake Roberts, a vendor selling souvenirs that mock Burk, said
he was nervous of how women might react when he set up his tent
outside the course on Monday. ''We were expecting a hornet's
nest,'' he said.
''It's amazing. We've probably had 50 percent women buying.
Women love the idea,'' said Roberts of Chattanooga, Tenn. ''You'll
see a couple walking and the woman will go -- That's great! -- and
pull her husband in.''
-- The Associated Press