Editor’s note: Annika Sorenstam is an LPGA Hall of Famer who stepped away from competitive golf in 2008. She now focuses on her family and developing her brand, which includes the ANNIKA Academy and ANNIKA Foundation, which helps fight childhood obesity and promotes junior golf. She is on Twitter and Facebook.
I was delighted when I heard the news this week that Augusta National Golf Club -- perhaps the most famous private club in the world -- had decided to admit two female members. Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore are highly respected individuals who have risen to the top of their respective fields. They are avid golfers and will be great representatives for all women who love the game.
Over the years, I have been fortunate to play several rounds at the storied club and always believed it would eventually welcome female members. I figured Augusta would do so when it felt the time was right -- I am glad that day is finally here.
Golf is a wonderful sport that teaches valuable life skills like patience, honesty, perseverance and confidence. It has become increasingly global over the last two decades, spreading to places like Asia and South America. For example, this week I am traveling to China for a junior tournament being held just north of Hong Kong at Mission Hills -- the world’s largest golf club (it boasts 12 18-hole golf courses and embodies the golf craze sweeping the Pacific Rim!).
Through various initiatives, Augusta National has been at the forefront of growing the game for a number of years beyond its annual role as host of The Masters Tournament. Given its influential position atop golf’s hierarchy, the club’s decision to open its doors to both genders is a very important step for women across the entire sports spectrum.
Moreover, Augusta and The Masters are interwoven into the tapestry of the broader, worldwide cultural landscape. Every April, images of the club’s impossibly green fairways and bright pink azaleas are beamed to millions of TV viewers around the world. They serve as proof that another long winter has passed and the promise of spring has finally arrived.
Just as these telecasts evoke the sense of a new beginning, so too does Augusta’s historic decision to invite female members.