There are days Id like to ban women, which is to say my wife, from being a member of our household. With her gone, it would just be the dog, a male, and me. We could sleep in and stay up late and watch old movies with cowboys in them and not worry about cleaning up until tomorrow or the day after.
So I understand why Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters, would not allow women to join. He didnt want to lose those special nights in the clubroom with the fellows eating leftover pizza, watching Clint Eastwood movies and sending the butler for yet another 12-pack of Milwaukees Best.
Most of us like to escape to a place populated by our own gender where we can tell hilarious jokes they choose not to understand.
Until Monday, Augusta National was such a place. Women hung out; they play the course all the time. But the club had as many women members as the Carolina Panthers do women football players.
As the tournament approaches every April two things happen.
Womens groups and sportswriters tell Augusta National that it has to admit women members.
The club refuses to discuss membership policies and quietly seethes.
The louder the criticism the more it digs in.
Nobody tells Augusta National what to do, not even CBS. Network money is so overwhelming that most sports entities change their rules to accommodate the cameras. But you will never see Hard Knocks Augusta.
The club moves at the pace it chooses. Numbers on leaderboards are changed by hand. Cell phones are banned. Spectators arent gouged. A turkey sandwich sells for about what youd pay to make it.
Augusta National is a gentle and genteel world that treats fans spectacularly provided they buy into the philosophy and dont yell or run, scream Get in the hole! or insist that they open their membership to women.
But the truth is that the club was going to admit women. It was inevitable that they would admit women. If you were at the Masters four months ago you knew they were going to admit women.
So it was no surprise when at 11:01 a.m. Monday the club sent an email that said Condoleezza Rice of Stanford, Cal., and Darla Moore of Lake City, S.C., had become members.
Read what Payne said at a news conference four months ago: I cannot close my remarks today without joining the growing chorus of golf organizations expressing their concerns about the absence of growth in golf and especially among the younger demographic. We are trying to do our part, as has been evidenced by the significant annual contributions we make to many domestic and international golf organizations.
You do not do your part when you prevent women, who make up half the population, from joining your club.
Even as Payne spoke he had to understand that its not what you say, its what you do.
Out here beyond the azaleas where the rest of us live the year is 2012.
Did Payne and the fellows at the club cheer the U.S. women at the London Olympics? Of course he did. The Atlanta Olympics were Paynes idea, and he was head of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.
If so, how does he tell women, with a straight face, they lack the qualifications to join the club?
Now that women are in, late nights in the clubroom might never be the same. Out: Clint Eastwood and Unforgiven. In: Mary Murphy and So You Think You Can Dance.
You get used to it. The dog will, too.