The Whitest Greens

Augusta refugees will find everything they want -- and everyone they don't -- at many of South Florida's private clubs

Dear Augusta National Golf Club Members:

We know you're nervous. We know you're sweating. We know the hair in your ears positively curls with thoughts of what might happen to Augusta. Let's face it, it's a bad year to be perceived as any sort of elitist, especially after that whole Trent Lott thing. These days, the wood-paneled, Scotch-sipping, man's-man world you know and love is crashing down around you, and all you can do is wave off would-be intruders with trembling hands and a graphite Big Bertha.

But you shouldn't have to suffer while Augusta's President William "Hootie" Johnson fights to keep women out. Heck, even Hootie admits that eventually some particularly privileged and nonoffensive female will be granted membership. (All you can do is cross your fingers and hope against hope that it ain't Oprah.) It's all frighteningly reminiscent of 1990, isn't it? Thirteen years ago, before Tiger Woods changed the complexion of golf, you lost the fight to keep those people off your course, and a lot of your reputations were sullied in the process.

Well, not this time. We want to help you, and we couldn't care less if Hootie's doing the right thing. We're more concerned with the bottom line. This is Florida, and tourism is king. So in an effort to bring some of you 300 Augusta members -- and your platinum cards -- our way, we at New Times would like to introduce you to half a dozen clubs right here in sunny Broward and Palm Beach counties that we think you'll like. It's high time South Florida started attracting the right kind of tourists again.

This didn't used to be a problem for people like you. As recently as ten years ago at most every private and public golf course in the United States, prime Saturday-morning tee times were reserved for men. The goal wasn't to exclude female golfers. On the contrary, most clubs even reserved morning times on Wednesdays or Thursdays for women, being that they didn't have to work during the week anyway. As busy executives, Saturday mornings are the only time men have available to play. We may have lost that battle, but the war's not over yet! While most of the clubs listed here are not officially men-only, you will find that when women call for prime tee times, often they are told that the courses are totally booked.

Martha Burk and her followers have threatened Augusta's members, no doubt you and some of your friends, with media exposure and boycotts. It's a veritable witch hunt, only the witches are doing the hunting -- and they've enlisted the Old Gray Lady to name names. The controversy brought the New York Timesno small amount of grief after two of the newspaper's sports columnists claimed that their columns were cut when their opinions didn't jibe with the editorial board's Burkist agenda. Those were a nice couple of days, weren't they? For nearly a week, people were criticizing the newspaper instead of the newspaper criticizing you.

But now the spotlight is back on Augusta, and it only gets hotter as the Masters Tournament approaches. Burk and her ilk have threatened to stand outside the tournament, scheduled for April 10-13, wearing burkas in the same shade of green as the much-coveted Masters jacket. Can you imagine it? Hundreds of feminists screeching and disrupting the serenity of golf's most hallowed grounds.

But here in South Florida, there are at least six clubs where you can still drive down the fairway with your like-minded, like-complexioned, and like-sexed friends. Shucks, some of you might already be members!

We want to help you, because we understand you. We know you didn't join Augusta because you don't like women. Like Augusta member Boone Knox recently told USA Today: "We have nothing against women. I love them all. I've got some myself." In this day and age, you gentlemen simply appreciate that a man needs a place to escape from those he'd rather not be around. Why should you be subjected to the same whining, the same nagging, and the same politically correct, tolerant conversations you already have to have in your boardrooms and offices? You've paid a premium, in both dollars and time, to gain your membership to Augusta. And you shouldn't be forced to share it with undesirables.

There's only one Augusta, but for those of you seeking equally august clubs for golfing, yachting, dining, and doing business with others like yourselves, South Florida has much to offer. Clubs so exclusive and steadfast that not even two governors could make them change. Nestled between the perfectly manicured fairways of Arnold Palmer- designed courses, you'll find paneled dens replete with everything you want -- and nothing you don't. Below, we've listed suitable Augusta substitutes, all far from the rallying of pickets, out of the focus range of television cameras, and well under the radar for those who wish to challenge your right to freely associate (and to not associate) with whomever you please. As an added bonus, no one has even bothered to notice these clubs in months, and in some cases years, so there's little chance of you being called on to quit.

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