Condoleezza Rice breaks into all-male US golf club
Washington, Aug 21 (IANS) Former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, a key architect of the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal, has broken into one of America's staunchest boys' clubs -- the Augusta National Golf Club.
For the first time in its 80-year history, Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore will become the first women to join the famous golf club in Augusta, Georgia.
Founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and designed by Alister MacKenzie on the site of a former indigo plantation, the club opened for play in January 1933.
"These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership," said Billy Payne, chairman of the private club, long dogged by controversy over its formerly all-male membership.
The issue which has at times threatened to overshadow the Masters Tournament, among golf's most prestigious events, was put in the spotlight by women's rights activist Martha Burk in 2003 when she led a protest against the club.
On Monday, she declared victory. "My first reaction was, we won... and we did," Burk was quoted as saying by CNN.
"By we, I mean the women's movement, and women in the US, particularly those in business."
Continued pressure from women's groups and corporate interests forced the club's hand, she said pointing to the April controversy over the club's failure to admit IBM CEO Virginia Rometty, as it has past IBM leaders.
Sponsoring the Masters usually guarantees membership to a company's officers. But Rometty had been ineligible because she is female.
Both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger welcomed the development.
Obama "thinks it was too long in coming, but obviously believes it was the right thing to do", White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday.
Romney, who had said in April he would admit women if he were in charge of the club, offered congratulations on Twitter to both Rice and Augusta National.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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