Small group looking to make internal compromise


NEW YORK -- A small group of Augusta National Golf Club
members plan to seek an internal compromise to end a conflict with
women's groups critical of the club's all-male membership, The New
York Times reported in its editions Sunday.

About a dozen of the roughly 300 members of the club, which
plays host to the Masters, said they were concerned club chairman Hootie
Johnson had not taken the right approach. They said they would seek
to have Augusta National admit at least one female member within
the next six months or so.

Johnson said he would not be "bullied" into allowing women to
be members after Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of
Women's Organizations, wrote to him in June about the issue.

Last month, Johnson dropped the three television sponsors for the 2003
Masters. The move, an attempt to shield the club from further
controversy, creates the only commercial-free sports event in the
United States.

"There is enough concern to do something to ease the tension
over this one membership issue, since we're a club that has women
around all the time, anyway," one member told the Times on
condition of anonymity.

"Some people are talking about not backing down, but some
people are talking about moving on."

The newspaper reported that several members planned to come up
with a compromise, such as admitting one or two women as members
before or shortly after the Masters next April. They said they will
press their case to the membership when the club reopens in

Burk sent letters to seven high-profile members of Augusta
National, including four chief executives, on Thursday asking them
to explain why they belonged to a club that had no women as
members. Among those receiving letters were: Lloyd Ward, chief
executive officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee; U.S. Rep. Amo
Houghton, R-N.Y.; Sam Nunn, a former U.S. senator from Georgia who
is a member of Coca-Cola's board; Sanford I. Weill, the chief
executive of Citigroup; Christopher B. Galvin, the chief executive
of Motorola; William B. Harrison Jr., the chief executive of J.P.
Morgan Chase; and Kenneth Chenault, chairman of American Express.

The 69-year-old Johnson, who is recovering from heart surgery
early this month, declined the Times' requests for an interview,
the newspaper said. A spokesman for Augusta National also told the
newspaper the club would not comment.