AUGUSTA, Ga., Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Masters Chairman Hootie Johnson announced Friday that because a national women's group is putting pressure on the companies that buy advertising time on the tournament's telecast, next year's event will be shown without commercials.
The National Council of Women's Organizations began lobbying this year for the Augusta National Golf Club to admit a woman member. Johnson has said that while the club would eventually women members, it would decide when the move would be made.
After that, the NCWO sent letters to the various companies that sponsor the Masters telecast each April in a bid to add pressure on the tournament and the club.
"We are sorry, but not surprised, to see these corporations drawn into this matter but continue to insist that our private club should not be "managed" by an outside group," Johnson said in a statement released Friday. "As I previously said, there may come a day when women will be invited to join our club, but that decision must be ours.
"We also believe that The Masters and the club are different, and that one should not affect the other. Augusta National is NCWO's true target. It is therefore unfair to put the Masters media sponsors in the position of having to deal with this pressure."
In recent years, the Masters' telecast has been sponsored by Citigroup, IBM and Coca-Cola.
The Masters has limited commercial time on its telecasts to four minutes for each hour.
"We have told our media sponsors that we will not request their participation for the 2003 Masters," Johnson said. "This year's telecast will be conducted by The Masters Tournament. We appreciate everything our media sponsors have done for us, but under the circumstances we think it is important to take this step.
"In 1934, Bobby Jones and Cliff Roberts decided to hold a tournament that would contribute to the game of golf. Our commitment to that goal remains as strong as ever."