A Gift From the Golf Gods

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For
golfers, the Masters at Augusta, Ga., played the first full week
of April, is Spring’s inaugural rite. The most prestigious tournament
on the planet, it may be the one thing we can watch on television
without being insulted and assaulted by all things modern.

And
last year, that woman tried to ruin it.

Martha
Burk, a dyspeptic feminist, wanted to join the men’s club. Her courtship
unrequited, she vowed to fight. The New York Times, led by disgraced
editor Howell Raines, took her side, and in the months running up
to April, ran a relentless campaign to force the club to admit women.
Augusta National Chairman Hootie Johnson remained implacable. No
way, no how, said he. So the media then tried to enlist Tiger Woods
in their cockamamie crusade. Wisely, he declined.

The
club, he said, is private property. No one has a “right” to join
it or play there. Augusta’s real rights supersede Burk’s imaginary
civil rights. Johnson stood fast, and thus did Burk’s silly campaign
end. Organized womanhood’s compradoress was reduced to sloshing
around in the rain outside Augusta National’s gates, twittering
the usual feminist amphigory.

Rights,
but not Burk’s, were the nexus of the debate.

Men
vs. Women

On
one level, the Burk brouhaha was sociological; the question was
whether a men’s club can exclude women. At the time, I remarked
that “civil-rights” ideology wasn’t the only thing driving Burk’s
jihad against Augusta.

She
simply couldn’t stand something being discussed or done at Augusta
to which she was not privy. The idea that men were lolling about
the club, eating sandwiches with dill pickles and ruffled chips
and drinking beer, while excluding the fairer sex, sent Burk into
conniption fits. Good.

Nothing
is wrong with Augusta’s excluding women, for the same reason that
nothing is wrong with little boys tacking up a sign on the tree
house that says, “No Girls!,” or with men gathering for poker night,
sans women. Sometimes, men don’t want women around. And not because
they believe women are inferior.

To
put it bluntly, it was about time the feminists heard an unfamiliar
word: “No.”

Private
Property

But
something equally important was at stake.

Burk,
Raines and the other girls might not know it, but Augusta National
is private property. Members pay dues to Augusta, not to Burk or
The New York Times.

The
left-wing notion that Burk has a “right” to join Augusta is rooted
in a legal theory called “public accommodation.” It means that some
private property is “public” because it provides a “public service.”
This is the legal cudgel the homosexuals used to batter the Boy
Scouts. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses are also “public
accommodations,” akin, presumably, to municipal pay toilets. They
can’t turn anyone away.

Yet
If private property is a “public accommodation,” and the owner cannot
decide who enters or uses it, then the property isn’t private. The
owner has no rights. Ultimately, the government, through courts
and laws, controls his property, and therefore, his livelihood.

Thank
Burk

Control,
of course, was the point. Most infuriating to Burk and Raines must
have been Johnson’s stony rebuff. Someone finally said, “No.”

A
woman, he said, will not join Augusta until the club wants one,
and never “at the point of a bayonet.” When Burk and her fellow
travelers pulled the big bayonet, threatening the Masters’ television
advertisers, Johnson disarmed them. He yanked the advertising. The
Masters can run for eternity without it.

Perhaps
we should thank Burk. The Masters’ advertising was never as obtrusive
as that on typical sporting events, including golf’s other majors,
but the ad-free Masters still is a gift from the golf gods. Television
fans loved it.

Augusta
triumphed. And so did the Masters.

April
5, 2004

Syndicated
columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send
him mail
] is an occasional columnist for LewRockwell.com. His
book, Real
Men: Ten Courageous Americans To Know And Admire
,
is to be published next spring.

R.
Cort Kirkwood Archives


        
        

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