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In The Beginning

There Was Truth




Apr 12th, 2010 by James Breedlove | 0

On the eve of the 2010 Masters Tournament the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, William Porter “Billy” Payne, dutifully presided over the annual Masters news conference as he provided reporters with updates on planned improvements to the Augusta National and the club’s charitable endeavors.  At the end of his perfunctory state-of-Augusta National presentation chairman supreme Payne surprised the reporters in attendance with an unprecedented chastising of Tiger Woods for the recent revelations about his personal life.

The chairman said that the world’s best golfer disappointed everyone with his sex scandal and didn’t live up to expectations as a role model.

“As he now says himself, he forgot in the process to remember that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, not invisibility. It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here. It is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids.  Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.”

“We at Augusta hope and pray that our great champion will begin his new life here tomorrow in a positive, hopeful and constructive manner, but this time, with a significant difference from the past, This year, it will not be just for him, but for all of us who believe in second chances.”

“Is there a way forward? I hope yes. I think yes. But certainly his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change.”

The moral hypocrisy of Billy Payne bears examination.  Apparently, he has conveniently forgotten the egregious, racial and sexist history and continued discriminatory practices of the world renowned Augusta National Golf Club.

A brief look at the background of the club gives some insight into the mindset of Chairman Payne.

Founded in the early 1930s, it has long been an exclusive haven for the wealthiest Americans to retreat from the public.  Its 300 members are among the wealthiest and most powerful men in American industrial, legal, business, and political life. The early history of Augusta National included a persistent practice of racial and gender discrimination.

The controversy over the male-only membership policy of the Augusta National Golf Club, host of the Masters Tournament each year, is often associated with the disputes over the racial integration of golf in which Augusta National played a prominent role.

The club has long been one of the nation’s most visible bastions of all-white golf. The Masters is an independently run event that does not fall under the control of the PGA Tour and no black player played in the tournament until Lee Elder in 1975.

The racial restriction on players was also applied to memberships.  It wasn’t until the Shoal Creek Golf Club/PGA Championship controversy in the early 1990s that Augusta National decided to invite, Ron Townsend, president of Gannett Television Group as its first token black member. Bill Simms became a member in the mid-1990s, but resigned under fire in 1997.  Kenneth Chennault (American Express) became a member starting with the 1998-99 season and Lloyd Ward (Maytag) became a member during the 1999-2000 season.

Why does Chairman Payne feel it necessary to stick his nose in the private affairs of Tiger Woods?  It surely wasn’t done for Sir Nicholas Alexander Faldo the Brit who spent a total of 98 weeks as the world’s number one golfer before Tiger Woods dominated the sport.

Faldo left his first wife after it was discovered that he was having an affair with his manager’s secretary.  He married the women and had three children then started a relationship with a 20-year-old American golfing student.  However, his infamous three- year affair with the American student ended when his affections were directed at another young woman.  The spurned American student battered Sir Faldo’s Porsche 959 with a golf club, 

From this perch, Chairman Payne, you do not get to lecture about who has and hasn’t let America’s children down.  Augusta National with its blighted history has forfeited that right. 

While Tiger Woods’ behavior was shameful and harmful to him, his family and others he has acknowledged it repeatedly.  It’s equally immoral and despicable for others to use Tiger’s failings as an opportunity to project a level of morality and righteousness they clearly don’t have.

Billy Payne is a hypocrite and the other Augusta Golf Course members should call him on it.  But they won’t because structurally, Atlanta National still stands as a premier example of America’s white male supremacy tied to a binding policy that the chairman alone controls every aspect of the Club’s operations.

Tiger’s return to competitive golf after a five month absence had all the hoopla of a circus event: the chastisement by the host chairman, flyover airplanes towing taunting banners, global media coverage, supersized galleries, and the suspense of how Tiger would handle the stress.  In the final analysis Tiger should follow the advice that former golf icon Nick Faldo gave Greg Norman after his colossal collapse at the 1996 Masters. 

“Don’t let the bastards get you down”, referring to the hounding Faldo assumed Norman would face for blowing a six stroke lead in the final round.

James W. Breedlove

Comments or opinions may be sent to the writer at: www.truthclinic.com

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