Former National Council of Women's Organizations Chair Martha Burk said that IBM has an "obligation to urge Augusta to extend an invitation" to the company's new CEO Ginni Rometty, according to Lynn Zinser of the N.Y. TIMES. Burk said Thursday, "The board of directors and [IBM Chair] Sam Palmisano has to tell Augusta National to extend membership to their new CEO, and if it doesn't, they will pull the sponsorship." IBM is one of three major sponsors of the Masters (N.Y. TIMES, 3/30). Burk said, "IBM is in a bigger bind than the club. The club trashed their image years ago. IBM is a corporation. They ought to care about the brand, and they ought to care about what people think. And if they're not careful, they might undermine their new CEO." She added, "What IBM needs to do is draw a line in the sand -- 'We're either going to pull our sponsorship and membership and any ancillary activities we support with the tournament, or the club is going to have to honor our CEO the way they have in the past.' There's no papering over it. They just need to step up and do the right thing. They need to not pull that argument that they support the tournament and not the club. That does not fool anybody, and they could undermine their new CEO." Burk said that she would "not be surprised if IBM pressured Rometty to say she doesn't want to be a member" (AP, 3/30). In DC, Sally Jenkins writes if there is a "valid philosophical argument that will persuade Augusta to make Rometty a member it’s this: CEOs don’t really qualify as men or women." Rometty "earned her way into a winner’s circle that is genderless" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/30).
WILL THEY OR WON'T THEY? In Orlando, Jeff Shain writes, "Don't expect to see Rometty in a green jacket next week." Nor would there be "any fanfare if she were to be brought in, just as other new members aren't disclosed by the club." But it would "surprise no one to arrive" at the '13 Masters and find IBM's new chief "giving a new sense of style to the club's signature attire" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/30). In N.Y., Hank Gola writes Augusta "loves tradition." Gola: "Observing this one would be unlike any other" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/30). In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote it "really makes no sense" for Augusta National Chair Billy Payne to "put this off any longer." Schultz: "This much is certain: Even if the issue goes dormant, it's never going away" (AJC.com, 3/29). Columnist Kevin Blackistone said, "This is 2012 -- we have women who are heads of state, we have had women who have been CEOs of other corporations. Either way, something is going to break this time. Either they’re going to snub their CEOs or they’re going to continue with this pig-headed policy of not allowing women to be members.” More Blackistone: "This is an out for them! It’s never been easier; it’s on a silver platter for them. Why don’t some of these golfers ... stand up for women? Somebody say something and say that it’s time to stop this ridiculous policy" (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/29).