Rumors: Female reporter barred from Masters locker room tells her side

Tara Sullivan of The Bergen County Record wasn’t allowed into the locker room at Augusta National Golf Club with her male colleagues to interview Rory McIlory on Sunday night after the Masters tournament. On Monday, she explained what happened.

I decided to write my main column on McIlroy’s stunning collapse on Masters Sunday, so as he made his way out of the scorer’s hut on the 18th green, I joined the group of reporters waiting to interview him in a roped off area.
Always in search of another quote and more description and reaction to share with my readers, I followed McIlroy to the famous oak tree outside the clubhouse, a spot where golfers often stop to do more interviews. McIlroy kept walking, and so did the group of reporters I was with. We walked into the clubhouse and followed as McIlroy made his way to the locker room. At the final portion of the hallway, the one that ended at the locker room door, I was told by a female security officer that I was not allowed in.
That was it.
Sullivan said she later received quotes from the McIlroy interview from her male colleagues. She also asked Masters officials for a response.
Shortly after, I tweeted what had happened. I also approached the media desk for an official reaction. An apology was translated to me shortly after, and before long, Ethun met with me personally. “I apologize,” he said. “It was a complete misunderstanding by tournament week security and you should have rightfully been given access per the standard practices of major sporting events.”
Reaction around the web was varied. columnist Ray Ratto wasn’t overly concerned:
We'll deal with the Tara Sullivan matter first, and most briefly. The columnist for The (Bergen, N.J.) Record was barred from the locker room by what seems to have been an overzealous woman security guard, causing bursts of Martha Burk-esque nostalgia about the evils of Augusta National's good-old-boy reputation. She got a belated apology from the club, all the McIlroy quotes from two colleagues, the sympathy of many journalists and, for all we know, a promise of complete access starting today for the media round.
The upshot: The Masters is whatever you want it to be in your head. And Tara Sullivan is about to be treated very well at that golf course, starting in 2012.
The Orlando Sentinel’s Downswing Blog also invokes Burk and the controversy surrounding Augusta National’s male-only membership, but notes that other female reporters are allowed into the locker room there to interview players.
Pleasantly surprised to find we haven’t heard from Martha Burk in the wake of last night’s screwup in which a security guard wouldn’t let a female reporter in the locker room to join an interview with McIlroy. It’s a blemish, yes – especially considering the 2003 fight over a lack of women members – but the club was quick to apologize for what it called a “misunderstanding.” Two veteran reporters – USA Today’s Christine Brennan and’s Melanie Houser – were quick to state they’ve never encountered problems before. In this case, I’ll defer to them.
Christine Brennan didn’t touch on the Sullivan incident in her USA Today column, but discussed it on Twitter on Sunday night. 
Re: #Masters locker rm news: I have been in the locker rm here, as has Melanie Hauser. That said, a woman was denied & that's unacceptable.
Augusta National says it will investigate. I take them at their word and await the results. #masters @Record_Tara
Still, it's unacceptable for a credentialed journalist to be treated this way. How did #Masters guard not know the rules by Sunday night?
I asked specifically if Augusta National's no-women members policy could have caused this, and spokesman said, "No." @Record-Tara #masters
Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski questions the choice of the word “misunderstanding” to describe Sullivan being denied access to the locker room in his blog. I was walking out I noticed that Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times was talking with Tara, giving her a few of the quotes. I did not think much of it. I drove to Atlanta.
One thing I DEFINITELY did not think in 2011 was that Tara needed the quotes because she had been barred from the locker room because she is a woman. But, alas, this is what happened. Apparently, this was because of a "misunderstanding."
My point in this post is not the sexist policies of the Augusta National ... I'm pretty sure there will be no movement in how people feel about those. But I should pause for a moment to say that "misunderstanding," seems the wrong word choice here. Restrictive clubs do not have misunderstandings. They have policies they hope nobody will challenge. They have neanderthal views they mostly cloak in public and happily and pompously share behind closed doors -- after those closed doors are locked. Yes, they make the rare exceptions to their restrictive policies to keep things legal -- women reporters ARE, in fact, supposed to be allowed in the locker rooms during the Masters; longtime golf writer Melanie Hauser has been there often. I suspect that memo doesn't always get circulated.
Stephanie Wei of says she routinely has to explain to security guards at PGA Tour events that she is allowed in the locker room.
From what I’ve gathered, Sullivan’s experience on Sunday evening was a misunderstanding, which was cleared up as quickly as possible. No big deal. I’ve been stopped and questioned before by security guards at other tournaments who don’t think I have access because I’m a woman until I show them the fine print that says “locker room” access on my credential.
Also to Augusta’s credit, the Green Coats run a tight shop at the Masters and the security/volunteers/workers are overall more organized and proficient than the average event. Earlier in the week, my housemates and I joked that if only TSA were as efficient as the Masters (security lines, will call, bag check, concessions, etc.), it sure would solve a lot of problems and make navigating through airports way less excruciating.
Masters ratings 13 percent down despite fantastic finishMason Levinson of reports that CBS’ ratings for the Masters are down 13 percent this year, despite a thrilling finish and Tiger Woods on the leaderboard.
The Masters Tournament was watched in 13 percent fewer households in the biggest U.S. markets than a year ago, according to preliminary information, as South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel captured the title and a final-round rally by Tiger Woods stalled on the final nine holes.
Yesterday’s fourth round at Augusta National Golf Club was watched on CBS in an average of 10.4 percent of households in the top 56 U.S. television markets, compared with last year’s 12.0 equivalent rating, CBS Corp. (CBS) said in a news release.
BBC ratings were down for a difference reason, according to The Daily Mail (UK).
Sunday night's coverage peaked at 3.6 million viewers at 10 p.m., a 16.3 per cent share of the total audience, but viewers began to switch off after that time, which coincided with McIlroy's painful struggles on the 10th, 11th and 12th holes.
The five hours of coverage between 7 p.m. and midnight still averaged 2.9 m, a more than decent return for the corporation.
President Obama explains why he plays so much golfIn an interview with Hearst Magazine editors, President Obama explained why he spends so much time on the golf course (via The Houston Chronicle).
He says he enjoys golf but is not the fanatic that some have portrayed him to be because of the frequency of his golf outings.
"It's the only excuse I have to get outside for four hours at a stretch," he told the Hearst executives.
Mr. President, you didn’t need to explain it to us. Tweet of the Day: Tiger @TigerWoods: Slight detour on the way home from Augusta, Shenzhen China

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by Kevin Cunningham