Augusta National chairman's latest announcement is hugely encouraging news for golf fans
For a golf course so beautiful and full of colour, Augusta National has always harboured a darker side.
Home to arguably the world's most prestigious event (a lot of people would still place The Open above it), Augusta isn't exactly known for its inclusivity.
Clifford Roberts, who co-founded Augusta National with legendary golfer Bobby Jones, was a racist who vowed to keep black men out of the Masters. To him, the only place for black men on Augusta's fairways was as caddies.
And it wasn't until 2012 that Augusta National admitted women for the first time, when former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore were invited to become the first women in green jackets.
While that was a baby step, it was still in the right direction. Augusta, which didn't admit its first black member until 1990, has made concerted efforts to banish the image of it as exclusive and haughty and, this week, current chairman Fred Ridley made a landmark announcement.
On Wednesday morning, on the eve of the most hotly-anticipated Masters in memory, Ridley announced the establishment of the Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship. The new event will bring the best 72 players in the world to Augusta next year, with the final round being played at Augusta National the Saturday before the Masters.
Chairman Fred Ridley announces the establishment of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship. The new event will bring the best 72 players in the world to Augusta beginning next year, with the final round being played at Augusta National the Saturday before the Masters.
— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 4, 2018
Amateur golf has always held a special place at Augusta. Bobby Jones was the most successful amateur golfer of his generation and, in keeping with his legacy, the club has always upheld a tradition of inviting the finest amateurs in the USA and beyond to compete at the year's first major.
Now, the cream of women's amateur golf can experience Augusta's hallowed fairways, too. It's a great idea and an encouraging step in the right direction. Hopefully, it's a sign of things to come. Who knows, over time, Augusta may become available as a rotation course for one of the women's major championships.
As you would expect, the announcement has been widely commended.
Bravo! Very good for golf!
— Cindy (@Cody4cindy) April 4, 2018
This is a huge breakthrough for women’s golf #TheMasters
— Tyler Muse (@TylerRMuse) April 4, 2018
Tremendous news! Kudos to you Fred!
— Glen K. (@GlenKarpowich) April 4, 2018
Wow that's really big news, seriously
— Jason Skelton (@JasonSkelton79) April 4, 2018
About damn time !! 🤷🏼♀️
— NathanielPicks💰 (@The__Natural_) April 4, 2018