Related: Private Versus Public: Why everybody's missing the point about Augusta National
In a pre-tournament press conference at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Finchem was asked why the tour continues to sanction the Masters when it has a policy that states it will not partner with courses that practice discrimination of any kind. The commissioner's response defied second-grade logic. "The position of the PGA Tour hasn't changed,'' he said. "We have a policy that says when we go out and do a co-sanctioned event, we are going to play it at a club that is open to women members, open to minority members, etc. And we follow that policy carefully." Then, in the next breath, "In the case of the Masters, we have concluded a number of times... we are not going to give up the Masters as a tournament on our tour. It's too important. So at the end of the day, the membership of that club has to determine their membership. And they are not doing anything illegal."
That's right, Mr. Finchem, Augusta National is not doing anything illegal. Indeed, we live in a free country. But Augusta is going directly against the anti-discrimination policy you follow so "carefully," yet you choose to look the other way because the tournament is "too important"? That reaches a level of hypocrisy that has rarely been delivered with a straight face by anyone in your position.
Let's ponder for a moment what would happen if this reasoning was to be implemented in other areas of life. All Americans have to drive on the right side of the road, except for the president of GE because he's "too important." All Brownies have to wear brown except for Sally, because she's "too important." All future college students have to take their SATs except for Joey... you get the idea; it's a ridiculous concept.
I'm left to wonder, what if Augusta had decided to keep excluding minority races rather than inviting its first African-American member in 1991 after the tour instated its anti-discrimination policy? Would the PGA Tour still sanction the Masters? What if the club, say, only included members with blond hair? Where would Finchem draw the line?
The PGA Tour prides itself on its charitable contributions and efforts to draw more people to golf, a sport that is struggling to retain participants. But all those efforts fall flat with the bad taste the Augusta membership issue leaves in the mouths of regular people. It's a controversy that has caused great damage to the image of the game, and Finchem's new comments only set us back further.
To top off the conversation at Wednesday's presser, Finchem said, "I know some people don't like our position, and I appreciate that and understand their reasoning, but that's the decision we've made."
In other words, it is what it is because they said so.