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Sports Then and Now

Transparency at Augusta: Change with the Times

Posted on October 31, 2013 by Daniel Lofthouse
Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera provided a memorable finish at the 2013 Masters.

Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera provided a memorable finish at the 2013 Masters.

The end of the 2013 Master’s really was a scene from a fairy tale. Only months after his excruciating Open defeat, Adam Scott triumphed; becoming the first ever Australian to win the green jacket. Angel Cabrera’s defeat (and the way he embraced it) personified golf.

A twelve-foot putt has changed one man’s life forever. Scott’s life, however, was not the only one to change at Augusta. The infamous club had also transformed, allowing female members for the very first time in a breakthrough for women’s rights activists everywhere.

Jack Nicklaus has dubbed current chairman Billy Payne as ‘the most forward-looking steward the club has ever had’. To an extent, this appears true, as Payne has persuaded the committee to allow female members and has expanded the tournament’s outreach, a move that made Guan Tianlang a household name. Guan’s actions, however, and Augusta’s lack of perceived fairness, show how the club still has work to do to change its image and ‘get with the times’.

The Boy who Captured the World’s Heart

Though only 14, Guan Tianlang showed that he belonged at the Masters.

Though only 14, Guan Tianlang showed that he belonged at the Masters.

Guan (14), was not only thrust into the public eye, he was successful. In the course of two days, Guan became a hero for children all over the world. He proved that even at the tender age of fourteen you could become a star. Stars across the world (including Woods) paid homage to a young man who had proved that practice makes perfect.

Children across the globe begged parents for golf lessons and Great Grass putting green renovations popped up in gardens everywhere as children looked to emulate Guan’s success. For near to two days, Augusta was controversy-free, until Guan reached the 17th hole and was docked a shot for slow play; he missed the cut by the same margin.

Guan was punished for slow play having being warned by officials. Many agree that this was incredibly strict, but under the circumstances fair. Despair, however, turned to outrage as Woods was given a two stroke penalty for an incorrect drop when the law states that he should have been disqualified. It was deemed ‘one rule for Woods, one rule for the rest of the field’ and it was never fully explained why he wasn’t disqualified.

Why Augusta Must Change with the Times
The issue here is the lack of transparency. The applause of adapting to allow female members was overshadowed by the Woods-Guan debacle. In an age where we demand transparency at every turn, is it not time Augusta provided the same?

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