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Augusta ends women member block

Augusta National Golf Club have turned a page in their history by allowing female members for the first time in 80 years.

The home of the U.S. Masters has maintained its male-only policy throughout much media criticism, particularly in recent times, but this will now come to an end in October with the announcement that former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rica and financial heavyweight Darla Moore will don the green jackets.

"This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club," club President Billy Payne said in a statement.

"Consideration with regard to any candidate is deliberate, held in strict confidence and always takes place over an extended period of time," Payne added. "The process for Condoleezza and Darla was no different."

Rice, a keen golfer, said in a statement: "I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity."

Financier Darla Moore, 58, is the first woman to be profiled on the cover of Fortune Magazine and is numbered among the highest-paid women in banking. She is currently a partner of the private investment firm Rainwater, Inc.

"I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life," Moore said.

A decade ago Augusta's then-Chairman William "Hootie" Johnson has countered widespread calls for female membership but saying: "There may well come a day when women will be invited to join our membership, but that timetable will be ours, and not at the point of a bayonet."

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