Martha Burk donned a bulletproof vest and marched through a muddy field past a mass of male protesters who were hurling rocks, honking horns and hollering for “Hootie” to halt the march of history and keep women out of the Masters and the golf world in its entirety.
It was less than six years since it first admitted a female member, and 15 years since its chairman William “Hootie” Johnson had a controversial fight against Martha Burke to exclude women from entering the club, saying he would not be “bullied, threatened or intimidated” into doing so.
However, Augusta National Golf Club announced Wednesday its plans to hold an all-women’s tournament on its famed course.
Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, announced last week that the establishment of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship will be held annually the week prior to the Masters and will culminate with the final round taking place at Augusta National.
“Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts left behind a legacy of always trying to contribute meaningfully to the game of golf,” Ridley said. “The Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship embodies that principle, and we believe this event will have a significant and lasting impact on the future of the women’s game. Our hope and expectation is that this event will further energize those who already love the sport and inspire others through the dream of competing at Augusta National.”
The 54-hole, stroke play tournament will feature an international field of 72 players. Invitees will be determined by awarding winners of other recognized championships and using the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.
In 2019, the first two rounds will take place at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta. After a cut to the low 30 scores, the final competitive round will take place at Augusta National on Saturday, April 6, when an amateur champion will be crowned for the first time ever at the home of the Masters.
The event is expected to be televised and will be distributed on digital platforms around the world. Daily tickets onto the grounds of Augusta National for the final round will also be made available through a random selection process that will be announced at a later date.
The Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship is now the latest effort announced by the Masters to inspire interest and participation in the game of golf, joining the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, the Latin America Amateur Championship and Drive, Chip and Putt, all of which are actively supported by the Tournament.
I’m sure Martha Burke is smiling wherever she is, knowing that her peaceful protest against Augusta National 15 years ago has made some sort of difference for women in golf.