Darla Moore, Condoleezza Rice, Augusta National Golf Club's First Female Members [PHOTO]

 @CareyDrew2
on August 20 2012 1:38 PM

The famously all-male Augusta National Golf Club has officially admitted its first female members -- former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Moore.

With the recent admission of Moore and Rice as its first female members, Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne called the selection of the two new members "a joyous occasion" and a "significant and positive time in our club's history."

"These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership," Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne said in a statement. "It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall."

While the American people are very family with Rice as being the 66th U.S. Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, they are most likely not so familiar with Moore.

Darla Moore is the vice president of private investment company Rainwater, Inc. Considered a pioneering woman in the banking industry, she is also the founder and chair of the nonprofit think tank, the Palmetto Institute.

"I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life," Moore said in a statement. "Above all, Augusta National and the Masters Tournaments have always stood for excellence, and that is what is so important to me."

Since Augusta National Golf Club first opened for play in 1932, it has held the strict policy that it will only admit male members. The controversial issue was taken to new heights in 2002 when Martha Burk of the National Council of Women's Organizations pressured the club to admit female members.

The club's chairman at the time, William "Hootie" Johnson counterattacked, suggesting that women may one day be admitted to Augusta National, "but not at the point of a bayonet."

"Our membership is single gender just as many other organizations and clubs all across America," William "Hootie" Johnson, Former Augusta National Golf Club chairman, told PBS in a 2003 interview. "These would include Junior Leagues, sororities, fraternities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and countless others. And we all have a moral and legal right to organize our clubs the way we wish."

The issue made headlines again in April when Virginia Rometty was appointed chief executive of IBM, a corporate sponsor of Augusta National. Rometty was traditionally admitted as a member of the club, but was not granted membership.

AT&T, a major sponsor of Augusta National released a statement in light of the recent admission.

"As a sponsor of The Masters, we applaud today's historic announcement by Augusta National and warmly welcome Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National," said AT&T's CEO Randall Stephenson.

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