Augusta National Golf Club Opens Doors to Women Members for First Time

One of the most exclusive organizations in the world has after 75 years finally agreed to admit women as members.

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It's about time.

The Augusta National Golf Club, one of the most exclusive organizations in the world and the home of the Masters Golf Tournament, has — after 75 years — finally agreed to admit women as members.

The two ladies who made the cut are former secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore.

They will get their green jackets when the historic club reopens in October.

"I am delighted and honored to be a member of Augusta National Golf Club," Rice said in a statement shortly after Augusta honcho Billy Payne made the announcement.


An avid golfer with a handicap index of 16.4, Rice said she feels very fortunate to have "this opportunity to grow my love for this great game."

"I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity," she said.

Rice, 57, is currently a professor of political economy at Stanford's Graduate School of Business and had been touted as a potential running mate for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Moore, 58, a trailblazing banker who is vice president of Rainwater Inc., a private investment company, called Augusta National "one of the most magically beautiful places anywhere in the world."

Membership for Rice and Moore has reportedly been first considered five years ago, a year after Payne took over. But neither woman knew it until she was formally invited.

The club, located in Augusta, Ga., has been lambasted in recent years by womens's rights groups for refusing to catch up with the times and admit female members.

Back in 2002, Payne's predecessor, Hootie Johnson, declared that women might one day be admitted but not "at the point of bayonet."

Payne caught more flak for running a boys-only club before the most recent Masters tourney April 5-8 over the potential membership of Virginia Rometty, the first woman CEO of IBM. She still hasn't been formally invited to join.

In his statement announcing the historic change, Payne glossed over the past criticism — and did not explain why the club was now altering its course.

"These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership," he said. "It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall."

Augusta National, which opened in 1932, has allowed women to play the course as guests.

By Hank Gola and Corky Siemaszko / New York Daily News