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Breaking the Grass Ceiling: Augusta Admits Women, Condoleezza Rice One of Two Female Members

By August 20, 2012

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Condoleezza Rice

It didn't take a cold day in hell for the impossible to happen, just a warm day in August for Augusta National -- the controversial all-male golf club that annually hosts the Masters Tournament -- to finally admit women as members.

And the two women who broke the grass ceiling are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, currently a member of the U.S. Golf Association's nominating committee, and Darla Moore, the first woman profiled on the cover of Fortune magazine and at one time the highest-paid woman in the banking industry.

According to ESPN, both women had been under consideration for a number of years. Their invitations to the club were likely spurred on by headlines earlier this year in which Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM which has been a longtime Masters sponsor, had been denied a perk given to previous IBM CEOs: membership privileges and the legendary green jacket. On the final day, ESPN reports that Rometty wore a pink jacket instead. (Talk about gender stereotyping.)

Upon accepting the invitation, both women were gracious in their remarks which ESPN has here. Moore called it "a very happy and important occasion in my life" while Rice says she looks forward "to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity."

It only took Augusta National 80 years to admit its first women -- a decision made at lightning pace compared to another all-male bastion which, like Augusta, also begins its new season in October. The U.S. Supreme Court took more than twice as long as Augusta to see its first female member take a seat on the bench -- 189 years to be exact.

If nothing else, the breaking down of longstanding gender barriers at Augusta National should finally put to rest the old story that golf is an acronym for "Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden." Today on the greens at Augusta, gender equity is finally at par.

Photo of Condoleezza Rice at the 2009 President's Cup Scott Halleran/Getty Images

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