ALAN Shipnuck was a twenty-year old intern when he wrote his first cover story for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Now a Senior Writer at the magazine, Shipnuck writes regularly on golf and has twice been a recipient of awards from the Golf Writers Association of America.
In June 2002, Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, sent a nine-sentence letter to the Augusta National Golf Club-host of the prestigious Masters tournament-asking it to review its policy of barring women from club membership. The unexpectedly long and harsh response of club chairman "Hootie" Johnson to Burk's short letter sparked a yearlong battle of wills that quickly became a national controversy. Shipnuck (Bud, Sweat and Tees), a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, superbly recounts all of the debacle's hilarious, sad, serious and absurd details. His overall view is that "Everybody lost" in a battle in which "both sides are right" in "a binary argument": the Constitution allows Augusta's right to decide its membership, at the same time that Augusta's policy is inappropriate since it is part of a golf world governed by a nondiscrimination policy. No one really looks good in this story, although Shipnuck shows how Johnson clearly tarnished the image of the Masters and became a poster child for discrimination, while Burk merely let her aggressive protests fizzle out over time. He saves his scorn for others: the "scheming PR flack" hired by Augusta who used the controversy to benefit his career; the members of the media who used Johnson and Burk to push their own agendas; and such golf stars as Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods (whom Shipnuck definitively shows to be "a middle-aged white guy at heart"), who ran away from addressing Augusta's intolerance. He too often uncritically quotes conservatives like Mickey Kaus, but Shipnuck clearly captures the pros and cons of the battle for Augusta. Agent, David Black. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.