Bowing to the not-so-modern concept of gender equality, the club announced on Monday it had invited two female members to join the club: former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore.
"This is a joyous occasion," club chairman Billy Payne said in a statement. "We are fortunate to consider many qualified candidates for membership at Augusta National. Consideration with regard to any candidate is deliberate, held in strict confidence and always takes place over an extended period of time. The process for Condoleezza and Darla was no different.
"These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership," Payne continued. "It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall."
In a statement released by the club, Rice, who served in George Bush's administration, said she looked forward to "playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity".
Moore, the vice-president of private investment firm Rainwater, said being asked to join the Augusta National represented "a very happy and important occasion in my life".
The announcement marks the end of a rearguard action by Payne and the Augusta leadership against the march of sexual equality. As recently as the last Masters tournament in April, Payne had reaffirmed the all-male policy.
After successfully fending off demands to admit women members, the club faced intense scrutiny this year following the appointment of Ginni Rometty as IBM's chief executive officer. IBM is a major sponsor of the Masters, and Rometty's four predecessors had been invited to become members of the club. However, no such invitation was issued to Rometty.
In the ensuing controversy, Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney joined the calls for Augusta to abandon its men-only rule.
Martha Burk of the National Council of Women's Organisations, who has led the campaign for the club to admit women since 2002, said she was delighted at the news, but added that her invitation to join had yet to arrive.
"I am very pleased. The woman's movement has prevailed," she said. "It took a decade, but we did it. It is definitely a vindication."
She added: "If I get an invite I will accept, absolutely."
Burk had repeatedly clashed with then Augusta chairman Hootie Johnson, who defended the policy even when it meant losing television sponsorship. Corporate sponsors, unnerved by the controversy over sexism, pulled out of the 2003 and 2004 Masters tournaments.
Before stepping down in 2006, Johnson conceded that Augusta National might one day have a woman in a green jacket, "but not at the point of a bayonet." It became a battle cry for stubborn male members.
Although under the previous policy women were prohibited from gaining membership, they were allowed onto the course as guests.
It should not be surprising that Augusta National has taken so long to fall in line with the rest of society. The club, which opened in in December 1932, only accepted its first black member in 1990.
Matt Williams in New York, guardian.co.uk, Monday 20 August 2012 20.07 BST