Hypocrisy Thy Name is Billy “Augusta” Payne!

Augusta National Golf Leader and Members Show Height of Pomposity and Double-Standard

And you thought all the bigoted, good old boy, bubba, white-trash rednecks were relegated to trailer parks in Alabama. Think again! The real redneck white trash congregated for their annual convention this past weekend in Augusts, Georgia. It was easy to pick them out. Rather than wearing stained, white bed-sheets, they were prancing around in stupid green jackets.

I recognize the subject of this week’s blog may seem a bit off track from the subject matter of most blogs, but my ire has been raised and my dandruff ruffled by a presentation made to open the convention by the chief white- trash redneck Billy Bob Payne. If anything sets me off it is the pomposity of blatant hypocrisy. Billy Bob and his elite-seeking cronies at Augusta National have raised hypocrisy to an art form. Yet, upon closer look, this incident serves as a great reminder of what goes on all the time in the corporate world and what we should seek to distance ourselves from.

Billy Bob stood at the lectern of pretentiousness before his gang of cohorts and chastised Tiger Woods for his deplorable personal behavior. Among other things Billy Bob said, “Our hero did not live up to the expectations or the role model we saw for our children.” In what one sports writer labeled an “unprovoked assassination,” Payne called Tiger’s actions “egregious” and continued, “I hope he now realizes that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would settle for his smile.” Billy Bob finished up by saying that Tiger had “disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids.” What a dead-flat jerk this Billy Bob Payne is! Even worse, all the members of Augusta sat there goo-goo eyed, apparently enraptured by Billy Bob.

As George Vecsey wrote in the New York Times (April 8, 2010, “Thanks for the Tasteless Sermon), “The other members in attendance did not rush up and sedate Payne, or slap duct tape over his rude mouth, or jeer him down. They let him continue. Ol’ Billy probably wasn’t saying anything the other men in green jackets hadn’t thought.”

No one would condone the transgressions committed by Tiger in his personal life, but the timing and the source of this criticism was way out of line. For almost six months Tiger has been appropriately (and sometimes not so appropriately) battered from pillar to post in the media. Not to even mention what happened within his family.

Then, just as he is set to emerge – literally and figuratively – back in public view to try and put his career back on track, Billy Bob steps up to take the ultimate cheap shot. (The irony is that the media had suggested that Tiger came back at The Masters because the environment is so tightly controlled that he would not have to face such low-blow attacks.)

The timing of Billy Bob’s comments were bad enough, but the most egregious part is the very source and credibility of the attack. What is it they say, “People living in wooden homes should not play with matches.”

Billy Bob and his bubba-boy members are part of a club that for 70 years would only allow African-Americans on the grounds to serve grits and carry golf clubs. For decades they manipulated the qualification rules for entering The Masters golf tournament with a single objective of preventing African-Americans from qualifying to play.

I was at Augusta one time (shameless name-dropper) playing golf and I asked Jack Stevens, then head of the club, why African-Americans were only allowed to be waiters and caddies at the club? His response was, “Well, we do it to benefit and give jobs to the “colored people.” He was serious and attempted to prove his point by saying, “We do not allow whites to be caddies or waiters.” True to this philosophy, for years and years, the professional golfers playing in The Masters were not allowed to use their white caddies during the tournament and were required to use the “appropriate Negro caddie” supplied by the club.

When pressured by the media and others to admit African-American members, the club staunchly resisted, claiming the right of “privacy” and “freedom of association” as license to discriminate. They argued that based upon their inviolate principles of “freedom,” it was a private matter. Then when the PGA and CBS television indicated that they could not support or televise The Masters tournament, the result of which would cost the club millions of dollars annually, the members put aside their “inviolate principles” and admitted a couple of “token” African-Americans. So, Billy Bob it all about money isn’t it? What type of message is that to send to our kids and grandkids?

In another blatant case of name-dropping, I was invited by the second “token” African-American to join Augusta to be his guest for a couple days of golf at the club. What struck me during those days was the feeling that he was “grudgingly” accepted by the members there, but that I was not, because I was with him. Amazing!

Then there is the case of gender. To this day Augusta National does not have a female member of the club. Again the elite privacy argument is dragged out as a defense. When questioned about female membership, Billy Bob said membership is, “subject to the private deliberations of its members.” Such pious BS! The fact is Billy Bob and his cohorts live their lives on the basis of exclusion. It is what creates their personal feeling of self-worth and value. Makes me almost feel sorry for them.

And the Moral of the Story …

So lets see, are we supposed to take Billy Bob serious in his self-righteous castigation of Tiger Woods? This from an exclusive group of hypocrites who, to this day, stand for nothing but power, money and the exclusion of women.

Based upon their history, one has to wonder if there is not a double-standard at play here. Would Billy Bob have been so pious if the golfer in question had been a white man?

Maybe we should ask Billy Bob and all the members of Augusta who have not had an affair or cheated on their wives to stand up. Maybe we should ask all the members of Augusta who have never done anything in business or their personal lives that they would not want known in public to stand up.

But there still might be something positive to come out of Billy Bob’s self-important pretentiousness and haughty arrogance. Maybe our kids and grandkids can see exactly what type of phonies they will have to deal with in life and precisely the type of person they should not be.

I guess it’s like James Carville famously said , “If you drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.” Well, now we know.

Thanks Billy Bob . . .

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2 responses to “Hypocrisy Thy Name is Billy “Augusta” Payne!

  1. My favorite quote from Billy Payne during his press conference: “His future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity in his efforts to change.”

    I couldn’t agree more with your column! In addition to the points you’ve already covered, a problem I have with this is the fact that he even made a statement. He didn’t have to say anything. Tiger has been burned at the stake for months, without mercy. Any additional words of condemnation are officially redundant. From a professional standpoint, I would consider it in Augusta’s best interest to detach themselves from Tiger’s situation altogether. They are merely a venue, a facility that sets the table for what people are actually tuning in to see; the golfers! I assume that this poor display runs in line with delusions of grandeur down in WASP-ville.

    In the end, this irritating wind-up from Payne is taking advantage of media spin, where one is only as good as their last press conference. Payne and Co. took sides, and maybe they’ll be remembered for that. The great thing about the entire event, though, is that it quickly became irrelevant. As soon as Tiger swung from the first tee box, the crowd cheered, and Billy’s voice was silenced.

  2. Here here!

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