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IBM's Ginny Rometty In Tougher Position Than Augusta National's Billy Payne
CNBC.com | April 04, 2012 | 03:15 PM EDT

On Wednesday, golf writers put the pressure on Augusta National chairman Billy Payne for the club's long-standing no women membership policy.

Payne refused to talk about it, shifting the focus back to the subject, IBM CEO Ginny Rometty, who, with her company, has been mum on the idea that, as is tradition with sponsors, she get her Green Jacket as an Augusta National member.

The public means to put pressure on Payne, but Rometty is in a much tougher position. She has so much to lose.

When women's activist Martha Burk protested Augusta National's no women membership policy in 2003, she had nothing to lose. There weren't any real stakes because she inserted herself in a business that she wasn't previously a part of.

Burk pushed hard enough that the Masters hosts gave its three sponsors, including IBM, a year off so that they wouldn't be dragged into the controversy.

Augusta National can do that because it doesn't care to strain every dollar out of its extremely valuable product. They sell the TV rights but stipulate that ESPN and CBS that they only run a couple minutes of commercials, from their sponsors only, per hour. They only sell a small amount of badges (tickets) and have the lowest concession prices of any major sporting event. Not having many partners means that you do what you want and what is normally good business, to be inclusionary, goes out the window.

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