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Golf’s ‘grass ceiling’ on women

Jennifer Collins Mar 30, 2012

Stacey Vanek Smith: The Master’s tournament tees off next week at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. It’s tradition that CEOs of major tournaments sponsors are invited to join the all-male club. Thing is, the CEO of a major sponsor IBM is a woman.

Jennifer Collins has more on the grass ceiling.

Jennifer Collins: Tradition has it the CEO of major sponsors get to don that timeless symbol of membership at Augusta National.

Promo: The green jacket at the Masters.

The golf world is buzzing this week with the question: Will IBM CEO Virginia Rometty get the jacket? IBM and Augusta National wouldn’t comment.

Marketing consultant Jason Lai is with Hands On Sports.

Jason Lai: Obviously Augusta needs to look at modifying these rules.

Lai estimates IBM’s sponsorship is likely several million dollars. Still, John Champion, a consultant with Kurt Salmon, says money may not be enough.

John Champion: I don’t think sponsorship will force their hand in terms of becoming members.

The club only admitted its first black man, Gannett executive Ron Townsend in 1990. Champion says most of Augusta’s members are at the CEO level.

Champion: For many companies, it’s a key way to entertain and interact with their client.

And if Rometty isn’t invited, she’ll need a member — perhaps one of IBM’s past CEOs — to accompany her on the course.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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