Paul Smith comments on Augusta National Golf Club membership invite | Bloomberg

Paul Smith | Repucom

Paul Smith, Repucom CEO

Repucom CEO, Paul Smith provides comment to Bloomberg about Augusta National Golf Club’s membership invitation to Ginni Rometty, as the CEO of IBM becomes only the third female in history to be given the prestigious member´s trademark green jacket.

Thoughtful Decision

While IBM holds a rarefied position at Augusta, the delay in extending her an invitation shows the club took a measured approach to judging Rometty on her merits as a member, said Paul Smith, CEO of sports research firm Repucom America LLC.

“I don’t think Augusta National is deaf — they heard the calls,” he said. “If there was an immediate knee-jerk reaction to these sorts of pressures, does that make it right? This was a rational decision, not one based out of fear.”

Rometty will be allowed to visit and play golf at the club when she wants. She will also have access to other members-only areas during the tournament, such as a 4-year-old “members retreat” cabin built in the woods near fabled “Amen Corner” – – the 11th to 13th holes.

Club members can also bring guests to the 2,906-square foot facility, valued by the county assessor at $452,171, to dine in a mini-restaurant and watch play on TVs. Meanwhile, non-members are only allowed to golf at the club or interact with business executives or friends if they are invited by a current member.

Steve Ethun, a spokesman for the Masters, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment. The club typically doesn’t comment on its membership. IBM spokesman Ed Barbini declined to comment.

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