Augista, 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 stands on it Did not accept a black member until 1990.
Actually, chosen even after Major League Baseball Move your all-star game from georgia To oppose legislation restricting access to voting, there was no doubt that the Masters would be planned this week – a reflection of the Republican lean of golf, but also of the pressures and pressures of Augusta National’s Hon. Is prepared for, crucially, the reality that the mighty, Masters’ secret brand 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 Augusta ‘doesn’t happen’ is in fact people’s lack of 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 begins Thursday, less than a week after baseball’s announcement of the All-Star Game, an exhibition Now to be played in denver And, unlike Masters, is staged in a different city every year. But Augusta National still faces scrutiny well outside its gates, not least because its membership includes executives 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 said it was “reassuring to see that profit operations and businesses are speaking up.”
Officers in the club, Who was all-male until 2012, Did not respond to requests for comment regarding the law ahead of the tournament. Augusta National President, Fred S. Ridley is scheduled to hold his annual news conference on Wednesday, when asked about him the measure, Which, among other provisions, limited time for voters to request absentee ballots and delegated broad powers to the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Ridley, who became chairman of Augusta National in 2017, often has more consensus than any of his predecessors over the 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 would someday join Can be invited, but this 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’s sponsors in a position to deal with this pressure. “
But last autumn, while engaged in a continuing debate about some of the racial disparities in the country that ended in Augusta National about its history, Ridley said the club and three corporate partners had formed a pair of unmarked Agusta neighborhoods. Promised $ 10 million for a pair of generations that 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 Welcome but dignityA familiar criticism for a club where there is opacity and caution among the criteria.
This time, Golf has given Ridley some cover. The game has measured 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 the tour would not transfer the 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 current conversations around the right to vote “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. “
The PGA of America, 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 the top players of almost any sport have not made open demands for any other approach, contrary to the tactics of the Major League Baseball Players Association, which had made public their reservations about the All-Star Game.
Collin Morikawa, Who won last year’s pga championshipSaid that the voting issues were “very important” this week and he did not believe that golfers “are going out of our way to stop it and have forgotten about 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 DeCumbo, hoping to be disappointed after the Show Masters last year, 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’re going to do 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 describe baseball’s decision as” a big statement. “
“It actually targets some black communities, making it difficult for them to vote,” Champion, who wore shoes Reading “Black Lives Matter” In a tournament last year, Georgia said of the statute.
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 unfolded in the early 2000s Citigroup effectively accepted Sanford I. Weil, an Augusta national member who at the time was chairman of the company, told the club that he supported the inclusion of women from membership.
If Augusta National were to condemn the law, its message would 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, With condoleza rice, Who was separated in 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 would transfer to the All-Star Was the opposite of the corporate virtue sign awakened to. 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 aware of his 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. “