August 1, 2012
William Porter “Billy” Payne
Augusta National Golf Club
2604 Washington Road
Augusta, GA 30904
Dear Mr. Payne:
We write to join the chorus of voices objecting to Augusta National Golf Club’s adherence to its policy of excluding women from its membership.
As a civil rights and human relations agency, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry and prejudice. For nearly 100 years, ADL has served as a resource for government, media, law enforcement, educators, organizations and the public. We are quite familiar not only with the harm that exclusionary policies can cause, but also with the importance of addressing such discrimination in an effective manner.
Mr. Payne, you demonstrated an appreciation of the importance of inclusivity and non-discrimination when you made it possible for women to achieve substantial gains in Olympic competition. We urge you to exercise that same leadership and commitment with respect to Augusta National. Augusta National is not just a private club. It is an institution in American sports. Its discriminatory policy sends a powerfully wrong message to the people of this country -- women and girls in particular -- that it is acceptable to discriminate based on gender. That message is magnified when your club does not admit the female CEO of IBM when it admitted her male predecessors. You have the ability to send the right message -- that discrimination should not be tolerated in any form and any arena.
While Augusta National may have the legal right to set its own criteria for membership, it is not in the club’s or our nation’s best interest. We urge you to do what is morally right -- open your doors to women members. At one time, Augusta National excluded Jews, African Americans and Asians. It is a better place now having abandoned those hurtful policies. It is well past time to remove the restrictions and welcome women into your membership ranks as well.
Robert G. Sugarman
Abraham H. Foxman