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Augusta National admits one of 'toughest' women in business

By Josh Levs, CNN
August 21, 2012 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
Darla Moore is a former banking magnate and friend of Martha Stewart.
Darla Moore is a former banking magnate and friend of Martha Stewart.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Darla Moore and Condoleezza Rice are the first women admitted to Augusta National
  • Moore was once on a Fortune cover as "the toughest babe in business"
  • Martha Stewart admiringly said she is "a cutthroat killer underneath"
  • Moore founded a business school in South Carolina

(CNN) -- One of the two women making history at the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club is a former U.S. secretary of state. The other, Darla Moore, is a former banking magnate and, by all accounts, a force to be reckoned with.

Moore -- who, along with Condoleezza Rice, has been admitted as a member of the previously all-male club -- once graced the cover of Fortune alongside the words, "The Toughest Babe in Business."

"To get a picture of Darla Moore, imagine, say, a cross between the Terminator and Kim Basinger," the 1997 profile read.

Her friend and admirer Martha Stewart described Moore, who hails from South Carolina, as "a cutthroat killer underneath."

Augusta National Golf Club admits first female members

When she married Richard Rainwater, one of the country's top investors, she was already the highest-paid woman in banking. She went on to nearly triple her husband's net worth, the article said.

Moore took on two fellow magnates and won. She "booted" T. Boone Pickens from Mesa, the oil and gas company he founded. And she forced Rick Scott out at Columbia/HCA "after the health care giant got slammed with a massive criminal investigation," the article said. Scott is now governor of Florida.

"I've harassed guys all my life," Fortune quotes her as saying.

Moore went on to found the Darla Moore School of Business, making the University of South Carolina the first major university to name its business school for a woman, according to the school's website.

"Ms. Moore's combined gifts of $70 million make the Moore School the beneficiary of one of the largest private donations to a U.S. business school," the website says.

The school's bio of Moore notes that she is vice president of Rainwater Inc. and chair of the Palmetto Institute, "a nonprofit think tank aimed at bolstering per capita income in South Carolina."

Celebration, surprise, humor after Augusta National admits first women

While she has been largely out of the news for years, Fortune -- part of CNNMoney.com -- noted last year that she was "back."

Moore was engaged in a battle with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Tea Party Republican. Haley removed Moore, a political independent, from the board of trustees at the University of South Carolina, and installed a campaign contributor, the article noted, adding that Haley's spokesman explained that the replacement, Tommy Cofield, shares "the governor's vision for higher education."

A firestorm of complaints followed. "The whole state went nuts," Moore told Fortune.

"Just like any savvy Southern belle, she summoned her sweetness to wage her battle and get her way. Convening students and TV news crews on the university campus, Moore announced a $5 million gift to build an aerospace research center named for astronaut Ron McNair, a South Carolinian -- from Moore's hometown, in fact -- who died in the 1986 Challenger disaster." She challenged the state to match her contribution. Haley called the request "premature," the article notes.

Membership is latest honor for trailblazer Rice

Earlier in 2011, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a bill recognizing Moore, a native of Lake City, "for her many years of service to the Palmetto State" and particularly to the university. The bill described her as an "outstanding public benefactor."

Moore received her bachelor's degree in political science from the University of South Carolina, and later an MBA from George Washington University.

Rainwater is suffering from progressive supranuclear palsy, a brain disease referred to as PSP, Fortune reported in November, adding that he requires 24-hour care. Although it's not life-threatening itself, the disease can lead to life-threatening complications such as pneumonia and swallowing problems, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Billy Payne, chairman of the club in Augusta, Georgia -- one of the best known in the world and home to the annual Masters Tournament -- said Monday of Rice and Moore, "These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well-known and respected by our membership."

Augusta National no longer just a 'boys club'

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