Two thousand twelve is rapidly evolving into the year of the woman. How so, you may ask? Recent examples bear witness to my assertion.
Not only did the U.S. women put on the most impressive female performance in the history of the summer Olympics, garnering more medals than the men's team, Monday it was announced the famed and highly revered Augusta National Golf Club has finally come to its senses by allowing women members to tee it up and join the ranks of the men in green jackets.
Long a bastion of men-only golf and clubhouse privileges, Augusta has had to deal with significant pressure during the past decade or so to allow women into its membership ranks.
As expected when the subject was first broached, the good-ol'-boys of eastern Georgia dug in their spikes and refused to budge. "Women will be allowed to join Augusta National over my dead body," may be paraphrasing a bit but essentially captures the attitude of die-hard members who will go to their graves insisting Augusta has made a horrendous mistake. But they're wrong, and their time of exclusion is over ... forever.
A private club that has long been considered the Mecca of the American golf world, Augusta has steadfastly refused to extend a membership invitation to women by citing the fact it is, after all, a private club and can thus do whatever it wants ... period.
But times -- thank the Gods and the spirit of Bobby Jones - change, and rather than continuing to attract unwanted criticism from just about every form of media and the public in general, the Augusta power structure relented and offered a green sport coat to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier and philanthropist Darla Moore.
Just as they finally, righteously, allowed African Americans to join the prestigious organization rather than just caddy for the white members, Augusta appropriately acquiesced to the simple truth that having women members will not prove detrimental to the club's status but rather enhance it. In golf vernacular, it was a gimme. To have continued their misguided masculine mindset would have had disastrous consequences.
Now the boys and girls of Augusta are free to concentrate fully on hosting the greatest golf tournament in the world (the Masters) and secure the club's reputation as the No. 1 golf course in all the land with no more ill-advised distractions.
For me, the biggest issue now is whether or not Augusta will put in women's tee boxes. Anyone familiar with the game knows nearly all courses have tee boxes for the men, tee boxes for professionals and tee boxes for women, which are appropriately closer to the green and take into consideration the fact women can't hit it as far off the tee as their male counterparts.
Admittedly, however, that distance discrepancy is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as women continue to become stronger and more "athletic" because the hurdles inhibiting them from doing just that have slowly but surely been removed.
It will be interesting to see what Augusta National does about the situation. My guess is they will construct women's tee boxes to begin with, but those will soon become extinct as the female linksters consistently shoot lower scores than their male competitors.
On the other hand, perhaps a more up-to-date way to look at it is this: The women members of Augusta may be offended if special tee boxes for them are added. I can anticipate the ladies rising up and saying, "We don't need women's tees, we're just as good as the men and we'll prove it." And I have no doubt they will.
Before leaving the subject, I'd like to claim full credit for Augusta's insightful recent decision. Back in April my wife, Sarah, and I had the privilege of attending the Masters, and during our time there I had occasion to chat with a couple of members all decked out in green.
Filled with southern charm and hospitality, the men were open and accommodating. During our brief encounter the subject of allowing women to join naturally came up, and I said it would be a good thing to have women members and eliminate any criticism that might detract from the reputation of this wonderful American icon.
Both of the men agreed, and there's no doubt in my mind they relayed my thoughts to the moguls of the Masters and that prompted them to move forward on the issue. You're welcome Condoleezza and Darla. Need a caddy?