The mother of all protests

Apr 132003
Authors: Jason Graziadei

I admit it.

I actually watched The Masters this weekend. I don’t think I’ve ever tuned into to a golf tournament for more than two rounds, but this time I couldn’t help myself.

Never mind that watching golf is a lesson in patience. Never mind the snobby etiquette of the game that made Happy Gilmore such a success. This year’s Masters had so many storylines, it was like watching a PGA soap opera playing out on one of the most beautiful courses in the world.

Of course there was Tiger playing for his third consecutive green jacket. There was Phil Mickelson desperately searching for his first major. There was the young amateur Ricky Barnes making a short-lived run on the field. And who could forget the protests.

It seems like the trend of holding signs and singing “Cumbaya” has caught on all over again. But Martha Burk’s vow to protest the Augusta National Golf Club struck an emotional cord with those both for and against her quest to get a female member inducted into the famous club.

The result? Augusta had nine groups request permits to protest, including the Ku Klux Klan. What started as a noble effort on the part of Burk to force Augusta National to do the right thing turned into a freak show that can only be thought of as an absolute joke.

To be frank, I think it is a little trivial to be protesting this type of thing when our country is at war. However, it’s obvious that the right thing for Augusta National to do would be to allow female members. But you have to respect the fact that Augusta is a private club. Right or wrong, they have the choice to exclude anyone from their club.

And even if Burk got her wish of a female member, it would be more of a symbolic measure and would do absolutely nothing to destroy the good ol’ boy culture of Augusta, which she loathes.

But the protests, which were confined to an area several hundred yards away from the gates to Augusta, did nothing to hinder the efforts of the greatest golfers in the world. The tournament did not disappoint on Sunday either, with names like Singh, Mickelson, and Woods all on the leader board to start the day.

And just as I finished writing this column, Mike Weir and Len Mattiace played to a draw and sent the tournament to a sudden death playoff for the first time since 1990.

I wonder what was more troubling for Burk, the guy who paced back and forth in front of her protest with signs that said “Iron My Shirts” and “Make My Dinner,” or the fact that she probably had no more than 50 supporters?

Either way, she missed a great golf tournament.

Jason is a senior journalism major.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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