Augusta National admits Condoleezza Rice, Darla Moore as first female members

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One of the world’s most exclusive clubs, the Augusta National Golf Club, has accepted its first female members.

The club announced Monday that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and businesswoman Darla Moore have accepted offers of membership — becoming the club’s first women members — after years of criticism for the club’s all-male membership.

“This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club,” Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne said in a statement, first reported by The Associated Press. “We are fortunate to consider many qualified candidates for membership at Augusta National. Consideration with regard to any candidate is deliberate, held in strict confidence and always takes place over an extended period of time. The process for Condoleezza and Darla was no different.”

The move comes after years of pressure and scrutiny from women’s groups — largely instigated in 2002 by Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations.

“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership. It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their Green Jackets when the Club opens this fall,” Payne said in his announcement. “This is a significant and positive time in our Club’s history and, on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome them and all of our new members into the Augusta National family.”

According to the AP, Rice and Moore had previously been considered for membership five years ago.

Rice, now a professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, was also recently appointed to the U.S. Golf Association’s nominating committee.

“I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity,” Rice said in a statement.

“I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf,” said Rice. “I also have an immense respect for the Masters Tournament and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world.”

Moore, vice president of Rainwater, Inc. and the first woman to be profiled on the cover of Fortune Magazine, also expressed excitement about her new membership. (FLASHBACK: Romney: ‘Of course I’d have women in Augusta’)

“Augusta National has always captured my imagination, and is one of the most magically beautiful places anywhere in the world, as everyone gets to see during the Masters each April,” Moore said in a statement. “I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life.”

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