By Paul Newberry, AP Game writer
Augusta, Ga. (AP) – While a temporary brewery just outside Magnolia Lane above Georgia’s voting rights law, Augusta National would prefer to focus on bloated blossoms, pimento cheese sandwiches and trick greens.
That strategy has served the Masters’ home well in previous debates over efforts to keep blacks and female members out.
Therefore, it was no surprise when chairman Fred Ridley played through any effort to recapture his club in another controversial issue on Wednesday.
“We realize that views and opinions on this law differ, and calls for boycotts and other punitive measures,” Ridley said during his annual event at the early-stage Masters news conference. “Unfortunately, those actions often place the greatest burden on the most vulnerable people in our society.”
There was never any doubt that Augusta would adopt a different path than National Major League Baseball, which had flown in from Atlanta to show its displeasure with the new voting restrictions signed into law two weeks ago by the Republican Government – Brian Kemp. Redeemed the Summer All-Star Game.
Opponents say the law is designed to reduce the electoral power of people of color, after a record turnout in November last year, by absentee and early voting, the first to take the state of Peach since Joe Biden 1992 Became Democratic presidential candidate. Then, in a January runoff election, Rafael Warnock and John Ossoff united a pair of GOPs in Georgia to effectively wield the balance of power in the US Senate.
Supporters of the law, including Kemp, have said that this is nothing more than an attempt by Donald Trump to preserve electoral integrity on the heels of unfounded claims that the presidency was fraudulently stolen from him.
Ridley said, “I believe that as everyone in our organization does, the right to vote is fundamental in our democratic society.” Process. “
Asked if he supported or opposed the new law, Ridley protested.
“I don’t think my opinion on this law should shape the discussion,” he said. “I know you want to make an announcement on this for us. I don’t think it’s going to be helpful to finally reach a resolution. “
Ridley’s stance was in keeping with the club’s history on other racial and social matters.
For decades, Augusta National did not have any black members. It was only in 1975 that Lee became the first black player to be invited to the Elder Masters. Finally, following protests at the 1990 PGA Championship to be held at the All-White Shoal Creek Country Club in Birmingham, the Masters’ home quietly recruited its first black member, television executive Ron Townsend.
More recently, the club has consistently refereed calls to allow female members. Former chairman Hootie Johnson said the club would decide on its own terms, “not on the bayonet point.” A decade later, Augusta National included its first female members, including one-time Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Again, there was little fanfare about the decision.
Now, it is the right to vote.
MLB’s decision last week to snatch the All-Star Game from Trist Park in Atlanta focused on the Masters, the first of three major golf tournaments to be held in Georgia this year.
The Women’s PGA Championship is scheduled for the Atlanta Athletic Club in June, while the PGA Tour’s season-ending tour championship will be staged in September at East Lake, Atlanta, which took over as the event’s permanent home in 2004.
The National Black Justice Coalition called for the Masters to be moved out of Georgia, but it was never a serious consideration. Augusta controls every aspect of the national tournament and would never have thought it to be played anywhere but its historic layout, along Washington Road, is one of the most famous golf courses in the world.
For that matter, the PGA Tour also stated that the Tour Championship will remain in East Lake, with a million-dollar economic development that has spread to the once-neighborhood surrounding the tournament club. There is no indication, either, that the female PGA will transfer to another state.
Like East Lake, Ridley announced a $ 10 million donation in November, which he said would help redevelop once-thriving communities going through decades of poverty, crime and unemployment.
But even if transferring masters were never on the table, anyone with knowledge of golf’s checkered racial history would suspect that it was not a leading voice on voting rights. The PGA had a Caucasian-only policy until 1961, 14 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.
Cameron is one of the few players of color on the champion PGA Tour (he is a black father and white mother). Last year, as protests erupted the country was the only golfer to take a major stand, following the murders of George Floyd, Bryo Taylor and Ahmed Erby, as well as the shooting of Jacob Blake.
At the BMW Championship, he wore a black shoe and a white shoe. He also wrote the names of Taylor and Blake on his footwear.
“I remember I had Bryo Taylor and Jacob Blake on my shoes, and I asked three different people, ‘Who are they?” Taylor said this week. “That proves why I’m doing this.”
So far, no golfer has followed her lead.
“There aren’t many people who are willing to talk about it, so you’ll never hear it,” Champion said. “It is pushed to the back burner as usual.”
Everyone at Augusta National says they support equal voting rights, but the champion was the only person who opposed the Georgia law, which imposes new restrictions on absentee and early voting, new to the GOP-controlled State Election Board Grants to obtain powers in local elections, and limits handing over food and water to voters standing in long lines.
“As you can tell, it actually targets some black communities and makes it harder for them to vote, which is my right to vote.” “It is very shocking to see this for me.”
In a game where Trump enjoyed widespread support, four-time major champion Rory McElroy was one of the few players who protested politically. The Northern Irishman criticized the former president’s leadership during the coronovirus epidemic last year and said he would not play golf with her again.
When asked his opinion about the Georgia voting law, Maclero took his words carefully.
“I am not a citizen of this country, but I certainly think that all great countries and democracies are built on equal voting rights and everyone is able to get as many ballots as easily as possible,” he said.
But now, it’s up to the time.
In some of the ugly parts of its history, the club said in November that it would invite the 86-year-old Elder to attend the event alongside Masters great Jack Nicklas and Gary Player.
After that, there is unlikely to be much discussion about Georgia’s voting law at the Masters’ home.
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