Augusta National Golf Club: What Would Warren Do?
Golf’s Masters Facing Male-Only Dilemma With IBM CEO Rometty
By Beth Jinks and Michael Buteau March 28 (Bloomberg) — Will International Business Machines Corp.’s Ginni Rometty be able to wear a green jacket at the Masters Tournament? As Augusta National Golf Club prepares to host the competition next week, it faces a quandary: The club hasn’t admitted a woman as a member since its founding eight decades ago, yet it has historically invited the chief executive officer of IBM, one of three Masters sponsors. Since the company named Rometty to the post this year, Augusta will have to break tradition either way. IBM holds a rarefied position at the Augusta, Georgia, course. The company has a hospitality cabin near the 10th hole, beside co-sponsors Exxon Mobil Corp. and AT&T Inc. The companies’ male CEOs have been able to don the club’s signature green member blazers while hosting clients. Non-members, who don’t wear the jackets, must be accompanied by a member to visit the course or play a round….
—Bloomberg, March 28, 2012
That’s the story, at least according to Bloomberg…but it’s not the whole story—or at least, the most interesting part of the story.
The most interesting part of the story is that Warren E. Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and currently the highest profile liberal Democrat in the American business world—being a friend and advisor to the President of the United States while also allowing his name to be attached to a contentious tax hike proposal—also happens to be a member of all-male Augusta National Golf Club.
Indeed, one of the non-monetary perks of selling your company to Berkshire Hathaway is a round of golf with the Oracle of Omaha himself at men-only Augusta.
(You can read about that and more in the just-issued 2012 edition of “Secrets in Plain Sight: Business and Investing Secrets of Warren Buffett,” available on Amazon.com’s “Hot New Releases in Investing” list.)
Further complicating the situation, and making it stickier than in years past for Warren Buffett, is that Berkshire Hathaway is now the largest shareholder of IBM, thanks to Buffett’s buying spree early last year.
So, we wonder, What Would Warren Do to unravel this Gordian Knot, wherein the CEO of one of his largest investments is banned from membership at the highest profile golf club in the world, of which he is one of its highest profile investors, at the very time his own very high public profile is part of the current tax policy debate?
We’ll bet Augusta decides to admit Ms. Rometty without a fuss or even a press release; Buffett is spared questions about the issue at next month’s Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting; and the President gets the credit.
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© 2012 NotMakingThisUp, LLC
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