Power Players

Golfers break gender barrier at the Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship

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Golfers break the gender barrier at the Augusta National Women's Amateur...

Augusta National Golf Club lays claim to some of the most storied moments and competitions in competitive golf, but until now women have sat on the sidelines.

That's changing. This weekend the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship in Augusta, Ga., concludes. The competition, which began earlier this week, marks the first time women have ever competed at Augusta, the traditional site of the Masters' tournament.

"We're just really lucky and fortunate that Augusta opened the doors for amateur golfers for this amazing tournament," says Maria Fassi, a senior at the University of Arkansas participating this weekend.

"It's just paving the way for women's golf," says Sierra Brooks, a University of Florida junior who's also competing. "It's just so special for the game."

The event is a big step for the club, which refused to admit women even as it faced continued controversy. In 2002, activist Martha Burk led a campaign to force the exclusive club to admit women as full members. At that point, women were only allowed to play the course if they were a guest of a male member.

Public scrutiny over club membership increased pressure for change, but it was not until 2012 that Augusta National admitted its first women members with full privileges.

Brooks and Fassi say they look forward to competing with the world's best young golfers.

"Hopefully we can inspire the next generation of girls to start playing golf as well," said Brooks, who is glad to see her dreams of playing at Augusta come true.

"Many golfers have come before that have set the tone for what we are doing here today," says Fassi.

"I just encourage all those younger girls that feel left out, or feel that they don't belong, that they do belong."

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