(CBS News) Ten years ago, the Masters golf tournament was hit by controversy over the membership policies of its host. The Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia was all-male, and that did not change, until Monday.
Augusta National now says two women have been invited to join one of the world's most exclusive clubs. The club announced Monday that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina banking executive Darla Moore had accepted invitations to become members at Augusta, breaking 80 years of tradition.
Rice started playing golf just seven years ago at age 50, as a way to ease the white-hot pressures of Washington, D.C. An accomplished athlete, she quickly fell in love with the game. Today she plays to a very respectable 15 handicap, has two swing coaches, and is a member of five clubs, including, now, Augusta National, the hallowed home of the Masters - an all-male enclave since 1933.
In explaining the historic decision, Billy Payne, current club chairman, said, "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."
In a statement, Rice said she was "...delighted and honored" and had "...long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf."
As for the 58-year-old Moore, in the 1980s, she became the highest-paid woman in the banking industry - and the first ever profiled on the cover of Fortune magazine.
She said, "Above all, Augusta National and the Masters tournament have always stood for excellence. ... I am extremely grateful for this privilege."
Earlier this year Augusta once again found itself caught up in the all-male controversy after newly-appointed IBM chief executive officer Virginia Rometty was not offered membership. A key corporate sponsor, IBM's four previous male chief executive officers had all been members of Augusta.
The first major protests about the club policy surfaced a decade ago, led by women's rights advocate Martha Burk.
On Monday, Burk called the decision "a milestone for women." Burk said, "This is a victory, not only for the U.S. women's movement, but for women in business, working women who now have access to one more hall of power."
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