Welcome to the 21st century, Augusta National Golf Club! After 80 years, the home of the prestigious Masters golf tournament is finally allowing women to become members of the exclusive club.

Augusta, which had come under fire in recent years for its male-only membership policy, broke the ban by inviting former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to join.

Both women, of course, accepted the offer. They will receive their green jackets once the club’s new season begins in October.

“This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club,” Bill Payne, chairman of the Augusta club and the famed Masters golf tournament, wrote in a statement posted on the Masters website. “This is a significant and positive time in our Club’s history and, on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome them and all of our new members into the Augusta National family.”

Admitting a couple of women to an all-male club doesn’t banish decades of inequality and sexism, but it’s a step in the right direction.

— Posted by Tracy Bloom.

The Associated Press via The Huffington Post:

The move likely ends a debate that intensified in 2002 when Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations urged the club to include women among its members. Former club chairman Hootie Johnson stood his ground, even at the cost of losing Masters television sponsors for two years, when he famously said Augusta National might one day have a woman in a green jacket, “but not at the point of a bayonet.”

The comment took on a life of its own, becoming either a slogan of the club’s resolve not to give in to public pressure or a sign of its sexism, depending on which side of the debate was interpreting it.

Payne, who took over as chairman in 2006 when Johnson retired, said consideration for new members is deliberate and private, and that Rice and Moore were not treated differently from other new members. Even so, he took the rare step of announcing two of the latest members to join because of the historical significance.

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