On the face of it, Condoleezza Rice and Dottie Pepper don’t have much in common, except they both play golf.
Dottie Pepper is 48 years old, has won seventeen times on the LPGA Tour, including the Nabisco Dinah Shore in 1992 and 1999. In addition to her LPGA Tour victories, Pepper represented the United States six times at the Solheim Cup and served as one of Meg Mallon’s co-captains for the 2013 Solheim.
Following her retirement from pro golf Pepper has enjoyed a career as a remarkably knowledgeable and insightful sports commentator for NBC and The Golf Channel, working both men’s and women’s sporting events, and she’s an independent member of the PGA of America’s Board of Directors. When Dottie Pepper talks about gender equity in golf, she speaks from a depth of knowledge about and experience in the sport.
Condoleezza Rice is 59 years old. A political scientist, Rice enjoyed a distinguished career at Stanford University, joined the George W. Bush administration and served first as Bush’s National Security Advisor and then as his Secretary of State. When Bush retired to his Texas ranch, Rice returned to Stanford. She came to golf at the age of 50, during a family vacation at The Greenbriar. Her stepmother explained how that happened: The bug bit her.
With South Carolina financier Darla Moore, Rice was invited to join the previously all-male Augusta National Golf Club in 2012. When Condoleezza Rice, who as a child growing up in Birmingham practiced her piano while her father guarded their home with a loaded shotgun, talks about gender equity in golf she, too, speaks from a depth of knowledge and experience that includes and reaches beyond the world of golf.
How do these two women feel about all-male golf clubs? They’re of one mind.
In an interview with The Scotsman, Pepper spoke frankly about breaking the gender barrier at the R&A:
My take on what the R&A needs to do is much the same as it was with Augusta National. Would it be great for them to have women members? Of course. But they have to be the right people. By that I mean the R&A have to look at what their club stands for. Then find people who can help with that direction and philosophy.
I’m not so sure it is ever right to tell people that they have to do something. Which is why I would not presume to tell the R&A exactly whom they should admit. That is for them to decide. When the right time and people come along, it will happen naturally. So it would do well for the R&A to look at what Augusta National did and speak to those who made the final decision on who would be invited to join. From everything I’ve heard, both Darla Moore and Condoleezza Rice have made a positive difference within Augusta National. The same needs to be true at the R&A.
Dottie Pepper, The Scotsman, February 9, 2014
Condeleezza Rice, reflecting on the gender barrier at Augusta National Golf Club and on the race barrier at Alabama’s Shoal Creek Country Club — she’s a member of both clubs now — speaks softly. Membership in private clubs is a matter that members must address, she observes, but gender and race discrimination in the public sector is both illegal and immoral.
Rice kicks down barriers, but she does it with a winning smile on her face. She was one of two women to play in the 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. (Heidi Ueberroth, who’s married to a quarter-owner of the Pebble Beach course, was the other woman playing in the Pebble Pro-Am.)
Did Rice set out to kick down the barriers at Augusta National, Shoal Creek and the AT&T Pro-Am? Rice knows her political history. She speaks softly and carries a very big stick, explaining “I’m just trying to play golf.”