This study examines the discourse associated with the membership policies at Shoal Creek and Augusta National Golf Clubs. Get-away havens for wealthy White males, these clubs became contested terrains when each was scheduled to host a major golf event: the 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek and the 2003 Masters Tournament at Augusta National. At the time of the events in this study, Shoal Creek had a Whites-only membership policy and Augusta National a male-only policy, which it maintains today. Controversy ensued when the chairs of each club made disparaging comments to the press about these excluded groups. Two parallel areas were considered in our comparative analysis: how the commercial sponsors responded to the controversies, and how the club chairs and their supporters used the rhetorical strategy of apologia to defend themselves and restore the public image of golf. Our analysis reveals the differences in how the cultural constructs of race and gender were negotiated in each case.
Daddario is with the Department of Mass Communications and Wigley is with the Department of Kinesiology, both at Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA 22601.