AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — While a tempest brews outside Magnolia Lane over Georgia’s voting rights law, Augusta National would prefer to keep the focus on blooming azaleas, pimento cheese sandwiches and tricky greens.
That strategy has served the home of the Masters well in previous debates over efforts to keep out Black and female members.
So, it was no surprise when Chairman Fred Ridley played through any attempt Wednesday to ensnare his club in another contentious issue.
“We realize that views and opinions on this law differ, and there have been calls for boycotts and other punitive measures,” Ridley said during his annual State of the Masters news conference on the eve of the opening round. “Unfortunately, those actions often impose the greatest burdens on the most vulnerable in our society.”
There was never any doubt Augusta National would take a different path than Major League Baseball, which yanked this summer’s All-Star Game from Atlanta to show its displeasure with new voting restrictions that were signed into law two weeks ago by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
Opponents say the law is designed to reduce the electoral power of people of color after a record turnout last November, fueled by absentee and early voting, led to Joe Biden becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 to carry the Peach State. Then, in a January runoff election, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff unseated a pair of GOP incumbents in Georgia to effectively swing the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.
Supporters of the law, including Kemp, have said it’s nothing more than an attempt to preserve electoral integrity on the heels of baseless claims by Donald Trump that the presidency was stolen from him by fraudulent votes.
“I believe, as does everyone in our…