AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — The impact of Georgia’s new election law is making its way from the State Capitol to the golf course. The National Black Justice Coalition (NJBC) “is calling on the PGA Tour and Masters Tournament to pull the upcoming event from Augusta National Golf Course.” It is also “urging golfers to refuse to play in Georgia” until the law is repealed.
“The PGA, which is a separate entity from the entity that manages Augusta National’s tournament, has previously issued statements indicating they value black lives, want to stand with community and that it’s important for them to strengthen and rebuild our democracy,” David Johns, the Executive Director of NJBC, tells NewsChannel 6. “This is about accountability. You’ve issued statements when it was possibly more convenient. Now, will you follow it up with action?”
Augusta National Golf Club did not respond to NewsChannel 6’s request for comment.. In the last year, club leadership taken steps to promote diversity. It is funding the women’s golf program at Paine College, a historically black university. It is also creating a scholarship at the college in honor of the first black man to play The Masters, Lee Elder.
“I would celebrate the efforts they have done and invite them to do more.”
For golfers living in Augusta, the thought of moving the tournament out of its home city is unthinkable.
“It’s a tradition in Augusta,” Wichit Tiwkohng, says. “Why would you want to change it? All of the local people depend on it for income. People come from all over the world.”
“The Masters is a part of the history of Augusta,” Garreth Carpenter adds. “When you think of Augusta, Georgia, you think of The Masters.”
Carpenter grew up just outside the gates of Augusta National. He could hear the roars of the crowd from his home.
“Even the year Tiger Woods won The Masters two or three years back, we could hear the roars when he was going down 17 after he hit the green. We heard the roars then we saw it on TV. It was really cool.”
It is no surprise Carpenter picked up a golf club himself. He was influenced after hearing stories of his great uncle caddy for Masters champion, Gary Player. Carpenter went on to play golf at the collegiate level and aspires to play professionally one day. When NewsChannel 6 caught up with him, he was in the middle of coaching a young golfer. He says pulling The Masters out of Augusta would hurt both the city and its residents.
“I think it would be completely devastating not just for the kids who are growing up nowadays, but the economy. Augusta National has done a lot for the CSRA.”