'About time' Augusta let in women, LI golfers say

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tees Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tees off at the 8th hole during the Pro-Am event prior to the start of the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. (Feb. 16, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Long Island golfers had a positive reaction to Augusta National Golf Club admitting its first two female members Monday -- former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore.

"They needed somebody to break the ice," said Anita Lokos of Wantagh.

Augusta National, which opened in December 1932 and did not have a black member until 1990, is believed to have about 300 members. The club, home of The Masters, had no female members until Monday but women were allowed to play the golf course as guests.

Lokos and friend Sheila Hyman of Woodbury were at Eisenhower Park on Monday, relocated from their normal playing grounds at Bethpage due to preparations for the Barclays. Lokos and Hyman said they have been playing at least once a week for more than 15 years and both were glad to see Rice, now a professor at Stanford, and Moore, formerly the highest paid woman in banking, gain entry into one of the most exclusive clubs in sports.

"It's about time," Hyman said.

Steven and Elaine Rubin of Bellmore discussed the historic day in golf before playing at Eisenhower's Red Course on Monday afternoon. The Rubins, who have been married 54 years and golf twice a week and also play tennis, felt the ability of the player should be the deciding factor into whether they can play at Augusta.

"If they're good sports people and they have the abilities, there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to play," Steven Rubin said. "If the abilities are there, nobody should be limited as to what they can do.

"It's unfortunate that this world thinks a lot about races and nationalities but abilities should take precedent."

Some folks at Eisenhower Park felt membership exclusivity is a private club's right but the general consensus was golf took a step forward on Monday.

"It takes your mind off what's going on in the world and you have an opportunity to concentrate on one thing. It's a great sport," Lokos said. "I think this is going to enhance it."

You also may be interested in: