Editor’s Note: Glenwood Springs Post Independent publisher Valerie J. Smith spent a few days in Augusta last week, attending the 2003 Masters. On Saturday morning, she grabbed her camera and reporter’s notebook and spent a little time at the protest site. Her story and photographs follow.
While the world’s best golfers swung their drivers at the Masters in Augusta last Saturday morning, about a hundred protesters far outside the club’s entrance gates waved signs and shared a moment in the spotlight.
Elvis was there. Martha Burk was there. So was a newly established group, TheBurkStopsHere.com. There was pro-war. There was anti-golf. Law enforcement and press far outnumbered the protesters.
The hoopla all started about 10 months ago when Martha Burk, the chairwoman of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, began criticizing Augusta National Golf Club’s all-male membership. Burk has had numerous heated exchanges with Augusta National’s chairman Hootie Johnson. He remained as rambunctious as ever in the days leading up to the prestigious tournament.
“If I drop dead, right now, our position will not change on this issue,” Johnson was quoted as saying in USA Today.
Once Burk and her group announced their intent to protest at the Masters, others decided to get in on the action. Pre-protest planning meetings were held. Groups were given designated areas to stand and, based on the cause, separated accordingly.
Although only about 50 of Burk’s supporters participated in a rally, there was plenty of activity on busy Washington Road, which runs alongside the entrance to the course.
Dave Walker, a disabled Vietnam veteran, posted a sign saying, “I Support President Bush Iraq Policy”
“I’m here in support of George W. Bush’s Iraq policy,” Walker said. “I didn’t come to get a response. I came to show support.”
Anjali Bhasin with the Feminist Majority Foundation, a group that fights for social, political and economic equality between women and men, aligned herself with the Burk camp.
“It is not acceptable. Women demand equal rights,” Bhasin said of Augusta’s all-male membership. “By excluding women from Augusta this year, they are enforcing the glass ceiling and discrimination.”
Bhasin said there was a decent response to their rally. “I think that people were really positive and supportive,” she said.
Anne Lattimore, with TheBurkStopsHere.com, was stationed at the opposite end of Burk’s territory. As her group stood along Washington Road, some drivers responded to the sign, “Honk For Hootie” by tooting their car horns.
“Everybody who drives by here has been real supportive and nice,” she said enthusiastically. A moment later, Lattimore cheerfully called out to her 76-year-old mother, who had come to join the anti-Martha campaign.
Also attracting attention was the Brotherhood of a New Destiny and Golfers for a Real Cause. On the other side of the spectrum, was the American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan presents “The One Man Klan,” literally, a one-man show.
Signs were blossoming with causes as brightly as the azaleas on the famous Amen Corner.
“Golf Displaces Housing, Farms and Forests,” stated one poster. “We Support Our Troops and Our President” was written next to the American flag.
And, apparently regarding Augusta National’s membership, “What Part of Private Don’t You Understand?” queried one unattended sign.
Finally, there was the group P.A.R.P., or “People Against Ridiculous Protests.”
Meanwhile, patrons inside Augusta National focused their attention on a different sign – the Masters leader board.
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