AUGUSTA, Ga. – Georgia and its new election law have been caught in a political bottleneck.
But evidence exists on and around the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club, which is the state’s most cherished sporting event, the Masters tournament. There are no protests on Washington Road. There are only limited calls in Georgia, even among avid critics of the law, to raise a springtime ritual at a club that was once an indigo plantation and did not accept a black member until 1990.
Indeed, Major League Baseball opted to move its All-Star Game from Georgia to oppose legislation restricting access to voting, no doubt the Masters would be planned this week – Golf’s Republican A reflection of Lean, but Augusta National’s willingness to obey the honorable pressure and, crucially, the reality that a brand full of Masters, Masters, hinges on one course, and one course alone.
“When you think of the Masters Golf Tournament, the first major of the year, Augusta National Golf Club, to suggest that ‘it doesn’t happen’ in Augusta is really what people lack knowledge about Augusta National and More importantly, masters, ”said Augusta Mayor Hardy Davis Jr., a former Democratic legislator in the state and a staunch opponent of the new election law.
The tournament game will begin Thursday, less than a week after baseball’s announcement about the All-Star Game, an exhibition that will now be played in Denver and, unlike the Masters, is staged every year in a different city . But Augusta National still faces scrutiny well outside its gates, not least because its membership includes officials whose current and former companies have been pressured into condemning in the state capital in Atlanta.
At the White House on Tuesday, President Biden said it was “up to the Masters”, whether the tournament was moved out of Georgia. He The couple added that it was “reassuring to see that profit operations and businesses are speaking out.”
Officials at the club, who remained all-male until 2012, did not respond to requests for comment about the law ahead of the tournament. Augusta National President, Fred S. Ridley is scheduled to hold his annual news conference on Wednesday when he will be asked about this measure, which, among other provisions, limited time for voters to request absentee ballots and delegate broad powers. Republican-controlled Legislature.
Ridley, who became chairman of Augusta National in 2017, has often had more consensus than any of his predecessors over any controversy that arose during the tournament. Less than 20 years ago, chairman William Johnson, nicknamed Hooty, faced pressure to allow a woman to join Augusta National and responded that a woman was invited to join someday Can be done, but that timetable will be ours and not the bayonet at this point
At the height of the protests in 2003, Augusta National held the Masters without the support of television sponsors. It was “unfair”, Johnson said at the time, “to put Masters media sponsors in a position to deal with this pressure.”
But last autumn, while engaged in an ongoing debate about some of the country’s racial disparities that ended in Augusta National about its history, Ridley said the club and three corporate partners had formed a neighborhood in the Adig Augusta neighborhood. The $ 10 million promised to the pair is that the generations are struggling with impoverishment and neglect.
On Thursday, Lee Elder, who became the first black golfer to play the Masters in 1975, will join traditional honorary starters Jack Nicklas and Gary Player to hit the Ceremonial Tea Shots of the 2021 tournament. For many, Augusta National’s final decisions were welcomed, but a familiar criticism for a club, where ambiguity and caution are among the criteria, were welcomed.
This time, Golf has given Ridley some cover. The game has expressed anger – and suggested that Georgia had no desire or desire to boycott it.
The PGA Tour, which does not control the Masters, said over the weekend that it would not transfer the Tour Championship, which is to be played in Atlanta, as the decision would be on nearby weaker areas due to economic and charitable results. However, it also stated that the “option to stage an event in a particular market” should not be taken as indifference to the current conversation around voting rights “and that it” concerns about voter suppression Was an important national priority to listen to – especially from communities of color who have been marginalized in the past. “
America’s PGA, which plans to hold the Women’s PGA Championship in suburban Atlanta in June, said it was “monitoring growth”.
“We believe that elections should be accessible, fair and safe and support broad voter participation,” he said.
And top players in almost any sport have not made open demands for any other approach, contrary to the tactics of the Major League Baseball Players Association, which made public their reservations about the All-Star Game.
Coleen Morikawa, who won the PGA Championship last year, said this week that the voting issues were “very important” and did not believe golfers were “going out of our way to stop this and forget it.”
“The subject of voter rights and all that, it should be the subject that we talk about, not if we are playing golf here,” he said.
Bryson Dechambu, hoping to contest after last year’s disappointing Masters showing, avoided a clear political journey, but cited golf’s contribution to the communities where the tournaments are held.
“We try to show, no matter what happens, we are trying our best to be an example to the world,” he said. “I think when those times come, we have an opportunity to show the world what we can provide.”
But when asked on Tuesday whether Golf or Augusta National should adopt a vigorous stance against the law, the Cameron champion, who is Biriyal and one of the few black players on the tour, replied, “I like that Looks “and moments later described baseball’s decision as” a big statement. “
“It actually targets some black communities, making it harder for them to vote,” the champion, who wore shoes that read “Black Lives Matter” at a tournament last year, according to Georgia law.
An important question for Augusta National in the coming weeks and months will be how to balance their views with whatever pressure they face from the sponsors of the tournament or the companies that appoint their members. A similar dynamic ensued in the early 2000s, when Citigroup effectively acknowledged that an Augusta national member, Sanford I. Weil, who was president of the company at the time, told the club that he supported linking women to membership.
If Augusta National is to condemn the law, its message will increase influence in the state.
Although the club’s membership roster is not public, the Guard Grounds are a gathering place for many of the South’s most powerful people and their guests. And its known members include Bipartisan political royalty, including Condoleza Rice, who was raised in separate Alabama and was Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration, and Sam Noon, a Democrat who represented Georgia in the United States Senate for nearly 24 years. .
In a letter on Monday, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida asked MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, whether he would surrender his Augusta national membership. A league spokesman did not respond to a request for comment, but Rubio said he was “under no illusion”, which Manfred gave up because he would “need a personal sacrifice, as did the All-Star moving Cog Corporate virtue was in opposition to the sign. Sports. “
Davis, the mayor of Augusta, praised baseball’s move but said he was not worried about the tournament, which local officials believe is responsible for at least $ 50 million in economic impact, when the Masters Running at normal capacity. He Argued that the people of the city would challenge and oppose the new law, but would also be deeply guarded about its most famous athletic tradition.
“This is our sports team,” he said. “We do not have the Falcons, Cowboys or Baltimore Ravens. But we have a Masters Golf Tournament every year, at the same time.