A group protested the all-male membership of Augusta National on Saturday outside of the golf course. (WRDW-TV / April 7, 2012)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, April 7, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's an issue every year during Masters week -- should Augusta National allow a female member? This week, both President Obama and Mitt Romney weighed in on the issue.
On Saturday, protesters from across the state came to share their message.
Janice Mathis has been fighting for women membership at Augusta National for nine years.
"I was here in 2003 and I thought it was important that I come back," she said.
She and others stood at the corner of Washington and Berckmans roads holding signs and talking to Masters patrons.
"What we're really saying here and all over the country is let's play the game by one set of rules," Mathis said.
The topic of women membership gained a lot of attention when a woman was named CEO of IBM.
"A woman who is head of, CEO of, a major sponsor of the tournament who won't get her green jacket because of an archaic rule," Mathis said.
Even President Obama chimed in at a news conference saying he believes women should be allowed to be members.
Protestor Sintonio Hobbs stood on the corner with his sign for four hours today.
"This is the 21st century of this country -- we almost had a woman president three years ago and I just think it's time," he said.
Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne avoided the question when asked about it in a news conference on Wednesday saying simply it's a membership issue.
Mathis says it shouldn't be.
"It's a misnomer to think of Augusta National as a private club -- it really is one of America's -- one of the world's -- elite institutions," she said.
She's not giving up hope that things will change soon.
"It's coming," she said. "I'm optimistic, it's coming."
At the height of the protest, there were around a dozen people participating, but they say they spread the message to hundreds and that is what is important. They said every movement has started small and they are hoping to have more people with them next year.