Green Jacket for IBM CEO Rometty Still Unclear

By: Nancy Berkley

I was wrong. I had predicted in an article last week ( that this Masters was such a good opportunity for Augusta National Golf Club to finally admit a female member, that the guys in the green jackets were smart enough to do it. But they weren't.

There's not much more to say. At his annual press conference prior to tomorrow's start of the tournament, club chairman Billy Payne punted on six different questions about whether or not a woman would become a member of Augusta. One reporter phrased the question in terms of how he could explain that position to his granddaughters. Still, no comment.

The male-only member issue at Augusta is particularly ripe since Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM, one of the Master's major sponsors, is a woman. The last four CEOs of IBM - all men - have been invited to membership on their corporation's coattails.

It is still unclear whether the door is completely closed for Rometty. All of Payne's answers to the "female issue" questions were couched in terms of not "publicly" discussing membership, emphasized by his response that especially when a "specific name" was mentioned.

If privately CEO Rometty has been invited to membership and she's accepted, perhaps the TV cameras will spot the blonde CEO in her green jacket. She would be hard to miss!

One final note that puts the Rometty issue in some perspective is that Payne admitted several times in his comments that the game of golf is in trouble. Through a Masters' special task force he is committed to using Augusta National and its Masters Foundation's money to work with other associations in the golf industry to jump-start participation in the game, particularly among young people.

I guess this means that the PGA of America and PGA Tour don't have the right stuff to get the job done. What an admission! Apparently only those at Augusta who know how to build underground heating and cooling systems beneath each manicured green can fix this problem.

I have another suggestion: Invite more women inside the ropes.

Nancy Berkley, President of Berkley Golf Consulting, is an expert on women's golf and junior-girls golf. She is a frequent contributor to Her book, "Women Welcome Here! A Guide to Growing Women's Golf," published by the National Golf Foundation, is an industry reference on marketing golf to women and spotting trends within the industry. She offers information and advice about the golf industry on and is often quoted in national publications. She was a contributing editor of "Golf for Women" magazine and a founding advisor of "Golfer Girl Magazine." Her interviews with women in the golf industry now appear on Nancy lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Harvard University and Rutgers Law School. After a business and legal career, she decided to write about the game she learned and loved as a teenager. She describes herself as a good bogey golfer with permanent potential.