June 25, 2007

To: Martha (Love, Hootie)

How will the Augusta National membership issue play out? We take you behind the scenes. Sort of.

The year is 2004, and I have adroitly managed to obtain a series of letters written by Hootie Johnson, chairman of Augusta National, to Martha Burk, president of the National Council for Women's Organizations. If you'll hold still a moment, I'll be only too happy to share them with you.

June 10, 2002

Dear Martha Burk:

Thank you for the World War I bayonet. I get the joke. I also look forward to using it as a divot tool. It will work better than the three-inch long fingernail that a member of your group tried to stab me with yesterday as we passed on the sidewalk.

July 20, 2002

Dear Martha Burk:

All of us at the club enjoyed a big laugh when we read your statement that the Masters could be played "somewhere else." That was so uninformed it was just plain silly. We wonder what places you have in mind for our tournament, other than Jane Fonda's front yard or Gloria Steinem's apartment?

Sept. 14, 2002

Dear Mrs. Burk:

I would like to know exactly why I am not eligible to join your worthy organization. My application was submitted in all good faith.

Oct. 20, 2002

Dear Ms. Burk, Mrs. Burk, whatever:

I read where the average age of our Augusta National membership is 72. This prompted me to ask our members to name the three women they would most like to see join the club when we decide, on our own terms, to admit women. I was heartened to learn that the winners were Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable and Ginger Rogers.

Nov. 3, 2002

Yo, Marty:

I believe I read where you claim to have recruited for your cause seven or eight CEOs who are also Augusta National members. Well, kiddo, if you want to have a CEO-off, we can get it on. I'll spot you three CEOs a side and let you play from the forward tees.

March 5, 2003

Dear Martha:

OK, so you have more CEOs than I do. How was I to know our members own so many companies that sell products to women? But surely this doesn't mean we can't all enjoy a commercial-free Masters together.

April 18, 2003

Hey, lady:

If you think we at the Augusta National are going to take your pranks lying down, you are sadly mistaken. Obviously you and your saboteurs within CBS found it amusing to make the TV screen go dark at every crucial moment of the Masters, but I assure you America did not. And as for your trick photography, it was utterly tasteless. The very idea of Adolf Hitler putting the green jacket on Tiger Woods! Among other things, if Adolf Hitler had traveled all the way here from Argentina, I'm sure somebody in town would have known about it.

March 25, 2004

Dear Martha Burk:

Allow me to offer my belated congratulations to you on not only becoming the first woman member at the Augusta National, but also on being named chairman of the Masters. Let me also applaud your efforts to further diversify the club. Surely the members will enjoy making new friends from Tanzania, Punjab and Sumatra.

Finally, in my new job I look forward to working closely with you to fulfill your wish and make the Masters a vital part of our LPGA Tour.

Warm regards,

*Hootie Johnson, Commissioner

Daytona Beach, Florida*