• The Masters

Obama calls on Augusta to allow female members

ESPN staff
April 5, 2012

United States president Barack Obama believes the time has come for women to be admitted as members of Augusta National Golf Club, host of The Masters.

A controversy surrounding the restricted membership rules of the Georgia golf club has been reignited in recent weeks, after one of the tournament's key sponsors appointed a female CEO - a position that usually comes with it an invitation to don one of the famous green jackets reserved for members.

The committee at the club have refused to discuss whether they will offer the woman in question, IBM chief Ginni Rometty, membership - but the country's president believes the time has come for change.

Obama, himself an avid golfer, would not have been able to join the club until quite recently - Augusta National invited its first black member in 1990.

"His personal opinion is that women should be admitted to the club," press secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday. "The president answered quite clearly to me that he believes Augusta should admit women.

"It's kind of long past the time when women should be excluded from anything."

At his annual press conference on Wednesday, current club chairman Billy Payne avoided a series of questions about Rometty.

"As has been the case whenever that question is asked, all issues of membership have been and are subject to private deliberations of the members," Payne said. "That statement remains accurate and that remains my statement."

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