Martha Burk, ‘The Bully of Augusta’


With the recent news about the passing of Hootie Johnson, the former Chairman of the Masters, we thought it would be interesting to republish a column from way back in 2003, written by Pro Golf Weekly’s publisher, Paul Daly.

The piece, simply titled, ‘Dear Martha Burk,’ appeared in the Spring 2003 issue of GolfBoston Travel & Leisure, a quarterly New England-based golf and travel magazine, of which Daly was its editor.

The article is published below, exactly as it appeared in print, more than 14 years ago, sans the images and links.

Dear Martha Burk,

My first question is this: Are you for real?

Your organization’s stated mission, listed on your website, is to “work on a broad spectrum of issues including equal employment opportunity, economic equity and development, education and job training, reproductive health, as well as the specific concerns of mid-life and older women, girls, and young women, women of color, religious women, business and professional women, homemakers, and retired women.”

No where does it mention getting a token rich female accepted as a member of Augusta National Golf Club.

Where are you really going with this Augusta thing? What is the benefit sought via the time invested, and resources allocated, by your supposed female-crusading organization?

Yes, eventually some rich female executive from an IBM or a Microsoft will be admitted. And when she takes the first tee shot, what good will have come of it?

Other than a notch in your “bayonet,” a couple of high-fives in the editorial offices of the New York Times, and a new job for Christine Brennan of USA Today, not much as I see it.

Does working so tirelessly to get a millionaire CEO accepted into a private golf club help minority females secure equal educational opportunities? Does it benefit middle class working mothers? What about teen pregnancy?

The answers are no, no, and no.

And you and your organization should be ashamed. This campaign is driven purely by an egotistical agenda. It in no way advances the issues listed on your website.

And your modus operandi certainly isn’t winning over any supporters either. Especially since you’ve decided to go the Jesse Jackson-route of threats and shakedowns.

With assistance from the media (i.e. New York Times, USA Today), you have implemented a disgraceful and shameful campaign, designed to threaten, intimidate, and bully any person, company, or organization that may not agree with your nonsensical stance.

But a word of advice: Americans do not like bullies. And you, Ms. Burk, are a bully.

Sure, you will eventually pop the cork and sip a glass (or two) of champagne when the private entity known as Augusta National Golf Club succumbs to your mob-like threats and intimidation. And you may send the New York Times a couple of thank you cards. But like all bullies, you will pay in the end.

Because when all is said and done, long after the first female CEO charters in and out of Augusta on her private jet, the NCWO will have zero credibility remaining relative to the advancement of women’s rights.


Your legacy will simply be the ‘Bully of Augusta.’

In closing, on behalf of golf fans everywhere, men and women, I want to thank you from the bottom of my FootJoys.

Because, while this silly campaign will have produced zero in collateral benefit for inner city girls, female athletes, or single mothers, it certainly will be a boon for golf fans everywhere.

It’s pretty tough to beat a commercial-free Masters tournament. One that I will enjoy with my wife and three daughters.

Paul Daly

Follow Up Notes

  • In 2003, Martha Burk proclaimed: “The sponsors will never come back unless they’re Hooters. The responsible corporations of the world won’t touch them until this thing is settled.”
  • In 2005, Johnson agreed to bring back tournament sponsors, including ExxonMobil, IBM and SBC Communications.
  • Johnson boasted: “Well, I guess order is restored, and we are happy to have them back. I said once, and I will repeat it, that we could go on indefinitely without sponsors.”
  • That same year, in 2005, Burk quietly left the NWCO.
  • The Masters continues to be the premier professional golf tournament in the world.
  • National Council of Women’s Organizations no longer exists.
  • In 2012, ten years after the controversy, with little fanfare, or press coverage, two women were invited to become members of Augusta National. They were Darla Moore, CEO of Rainwater, a New York investment company, and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
  • Instead of drinking champagne in 2003, Burk was relegated to claiming she deserved a free beer from Rice, 13 years later(!), in a press release profile published by
  • Christine Brennan of USA Today, whose column started the controversy, continues to show up at professional golf tournaments to agitate and feign selective outrage. Her latest target is, naturally, the left’s current cause du jour: President Donald Trump and anyone who dares to associate with him. (Sound familiar?)
  • Exit question: Would Burk’s crusade have succeeded if it happened in, say, 2017, and not 2002 (a world without iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, and Hashtags)? With the advent of social-based technology, the political left, and its allied media, have taken Burk’s bullying tactics to dizzying heights: threatening, intimidating, and shaming private citizens and public companies alike – anyone who dares not toe the progressive line.


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