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Darla Moore: I'm an Augusta National member, 'not an advocate'

April 11, 2013 at 8:03 AM ET

She may be known as a rabble-rouser and a trailblazer in a career that made her a billionaire, but don’t expect Darla Moore to make waves at Augusta National Golf Club.

Last August, Moore, 58, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice broke the gender barrier by becoming the first female members of the ultra-exclusive club in Georgia that has hosted the Masters Tournament since 1934. This year’s tournament tees off on Thursday, and Moore doesn’t plan on making headlines by pushing for more female members.

“I wouldn’t think that would be something I would do,’’ Moore told Craig Melvin on TODAY Thursday. “I’m very happy and honored to be one of the first members, but that wouldn’t be my role there. I’m a member, I’m not an advocate.’’

Making history at golf’s sacred place is just the latest chapter in a barrier-breaking life story for Moore, who Fortune magazine dubbed “the toughest babe in business” in 1997. She considers being admitted to one of golf's most exclusive clubs a major milestone.

“It was humbling, exciting,’’ she said about becoming an Augusta National member. “It was a very big deal in one's life.”

Club Chairman Billy Payne spoke publicly for the first time on Wednesday about the adding Rice and Moore. Both women are in Augusta this week for the tournament, and Rice played a practice round with multiple Masters winner Phil Mickelson on Wednesday while wearing the club’s iconic green jacket.

“At the time, we described that welcoming Condi and Darla as members of Augusta National represented a joyous occasion for the club,” Payne told reporters in his annual pre-Masters address. “This week, that’s truer than ever. . . It’s just awesome.”

Moore made her name helping companies teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and by the late 1990s was running her husband’s private equity company, Rainwater, Inc.

She plans to spend the rest of her life giving away the money she's earned. Since 1998, she has donated more than $100 million, most of it to her alma mater, the University of South Carolina. She has taken a hands-on approach since expressing some apprehension over her initial donation to the school.

“I remember calling my husband Richard and saying, ‘Richard, I think we may have just pissed 25 million dollars down a rat hole.’’’

Moore decided to give $45 million more to her alma mater, and the business school now bears her name. It's the first major school to have a business school named after a woman, according to the school's website. Republicans and Democrats have tried to convince her to run for Congress or governor of South Carolina, but has no plans to enter politics.

“At this point in my life, I have found that the influence from the outside, versus what I observe what you can get done from the inside, is markedly different,’’ she said.

Instead, she takes time to work on her golf swing on the 300-acre former plantation in Lake City, S.C., that has been in her family for six generations.

“Well, my golf game needs work,’’ she joked.


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