Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Augusta adds women & journalism lessons

News that Augusta National has finally admitted two female members has me wondering about the logistics.


Are Augusta-area contractors submitting bids to construct a two-stall women’s locker room?


And do you think there are any bookies stupid enough to let me tease a one-two perfecta on the outcome of the 2013 women’s club championship?


I think most Augusta members are happy to welcome female members and think it’s long overdue. That’s now one female member for every 150 males, so Sadie Hawkins Day at Augusta won’t be quite the bore it’s been.


Of course, there are certain to be fringe members -- and any club that has putting greens is bound to have “fringe” members -- who are furious. They believe in tradition and keeping things the way they were in the ‘50s.


The 1850s.


They don’t want female members, especially one who’s, and I’m struggling with just how to put this, you know -- a darkie!


Yeah, gimme that old time religion.


I expect in the next day or so one or two members will quietly quit in response to the admission of Darla Moore and Condoleezza Rice (Augusta admitted its first black member in 1990).


Where’s a white man who enjoys the mostly exclusive company of other white men to go? Besides my bar, I mean.


I guess the difference between bars like the one I frequent and Augusta National is that women have always been welcome. But most of them just decide on a near nightly basis to stay the hell away.


Another difference: Many Augusta National members own plants. Guys like me who go to bars like mine will once in a while water them.


It’s funny, too, because three hours before the Augusta news was announced I was enjoying a lively conversation with a famous Augusta National member. And take a moment, please, to notice how deftly I turned this historic story into an opportunity to name drop.


It was, of course, Arnold Palmer. I was at his office to interview him for Kingdom Magazine. Regular readers will recall Palmer was kind enough to write the endorsing foreword for my book.


Here’s just some of what he wrote: “‘Use All the Crayons!’ is an interesting and amusing trip through precisely 501 wide-ranging tips on life surrounding thirty-three short essays that are thoughtful and insightful.”


And from name dropping to a subtle sales pitch in just two slim paragraphs. Forget Augusta admitting female members. It’s an historic day for deftness!


I’ve become so comfortable interviewing Arnold Palmer that yesterday I nearly forgot the reason I was there was to interview Arnold Palmer. I was so enchanted by our introductory small talk I forgot to hit “record” on my iPhone voice recorder.


Oh, how I wish I had a journalism class to teach tonight! This would be a great lesson.


I’d spent an hour interviewing a famous and busy man and had no audio record of what he said. Worse, I rely so much on the infallibility of my iPhone I didn’t take any notes.


I discovered my error as I was departing and told Palmer’s long-time assistant, a friend, who’d sat in for the interview, which had gone splendidly. Lots of laughs, lots of insights -- stuff that would be impossible to duplicate in a hasty and embarrassing re-interview.


What, he asked, was I going to do?


Don’t worry, I said. I think I got it.


In fact, I knew I did. I was confident I could rely on a device even more incredible than a common smart phone. With the list of questions to cue my recollections, I wrote the interview up entirely from memory.


I sent it to Palmer’s assistant to verify my accuracy. He was amazed. Said it read like a transcript.


The human mind once again saving the human ass.


I called back later to see if we should add a comment about Augusta admitting females, but was told it could hold for a future interview.


I suspect I know what he’ll say about it. He’ll say he welcomes the new members and looks forward to golfing with them.


It’ll be cool if he’ll say, “I’m glad Augusta National is finally starting to ‘Use All the Crayons!’”


That would be something else I’d never forget.




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