There was more than one champion at this year’s Masters Golf Tournament and we’re not talking about Adam Scott, who won his first major yesterday. We’re talking about the women… the first women to be present at the Tournament as official members of Augusta National Golf Club in its 80-year history.
Females have played golf at Augusta National before, but it wasn’t until last summer that women were invited to be official members. Financier Darla Moore and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice broke the gender barrier by becoming the first female members of the ultra-exclusive club.
This April also marks the tenth anniversary since Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations launched a protest outside the gates of Augusta during Masters week against the club’s then all-male membership policy.
Augusta’s first female members aren’t the only milestone for women in golf this spring. Last month, EA Sports, a developer of sports video games, released Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, giving gamers the chance, for the first time ever, to compete in real-life Ladies Professional Golf Association (LGPA) events. According to the National Golf Foundation, there are more than 6 million female golfers in the U.S., which EA Sports hopes include many women who regularly play video games.
Although gamers have previously had the option to play the game as existing female professionals, this new version gives them the chance to create their very own, unique female players and compete on the amateur ladder to the LPGA Tour. It even includes the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the biggest tournament on the LPGA Tour schedule.
In a nod to gender equality, the game also allows female players to compete against the men on the PGA Tour. Unlike many other sports, this is actually more of a reality than a virtual reality, as LPGA players Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie have both competed in live men’s events before.
Women are making strides on the greens, and although it remains to be seen if the presence of female members at Augusta is more about symbolism than it is about substance, equality in virtual reality can definitely be seen as progress.