Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
(USA TODAY) -- Finally.
It has been a long time coming, but Augusta National Golf Club has done the right thing and admitted two women into its previously all-male membership: former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore.
To say it's about time is an understatement. It has been well past time for Augusta to end its stubborn, sexist ways and acknowledge women are not only a vital part of the golf industry, but are important participants in the corridors of power in America - and we can certainly say that Augusta National is one of the biggest, boldest and most iconic corridors of power.
Today, one of the last bastions of male supremacy is no more. Today, Augusta National has made a crucial statement to every girl and woman who has thought about picking up a golf club. The message is simple: You are welcome.
That same message is being sent to every girl and woman who has even thought about trying to enter a sport or a field of study or a job that boys and men have dominated. If Augusta National can bring in women, then anyone can.
That's how big of a deal this is.
It's not surprising that Rice, an avid golfer and pioneering leader on many levels, and Moore, a good friend of former Augusta chairman Hootie Johnson, are the first women to join Augusta. It's a bit of a surprise that IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is not, although it is believed she could become a member at another time.
It's believed that Chairman Billy Payne has been strongly considering inviting a woman (or two) to become members of Augusta for the past five years. Change certainly occurs slowly on that beautiful golf course in Georgia. It has been 10 years since the famous blowup between Johnson and women's rights advocate Martha Burk. And it has been 13 years since Johnson told me that he believed a woman would be admitted in "due time."
It took a more modern leader such as Payne to get it done. As chief of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Payne was in charge of what became known as the "Women's Olympics." It's no surprise at all that he is the man to bring Augusta National into the 20th century before too much more of the 21st goes by.
It took more time and involved more anguished debate than many would have thought prudent or right, but it finally has been done.