Breaking down social barriers is nothing new to Condoleeza Rice. The first African-American woman appointed U.S. Secretary of State broke another one Monday, being invited to join Augusta National Golf Club as one of its first two female members.
Rice, now a Stanford University professor of political science and public policy, joined South Carolina financier Darla Moore in accepting the club's membership invitations, Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne announced.
"This is a joyous occasion," 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."
Founded in 1932, Augusta National's membership remained all male and all white until 1990 when the club invited its first African-American member.
Since then, the club has come under increasing pressure to admit female members, including requests from National Council of Women's Organizations Chairman Martha Burk. While the home of the Masters Golf Tournament has allowed women to play as guests, it remained without a green-jacketed female until Monday.
"I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity," Rice said in a statement released by the club. "I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf. I also have an immense respect for the Masters Tournament and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world."
Rice, who was also the first African-American woman to be named Stanford provost in 1993, is an avid golfer and was recently appointed to the U.S. Golf Association's nominating committee.
With one of the final holdouts now allowing women, the controversy of exclusivity in golf clubs may now shift to the British Open, which will host its 2013 tournament at male-only Muirfield Golf Club.
Following the announcement, former Stanford All-American Tiger Woods issued a statement congratulating Rice and commending Augusta National.
"I think the decision by the Augusta National membership is important to golf," Woods stated. "The club continues to demonstrate its commitment to impacting the game in positive ways. I would like to congratulate both new members, especially my friend Condi Rice."