AUGUSTA, Ga. — New IBM chief Virginia Rometty was at the Masters after all.

In a pink jacket, however, not a green one.

Rometty, sitting in a lawn chair, had a prime location just a few rows behind the 18th green. She is known to be an avid scuba diver, not much of a golfer. But she knew enough about the game to applaud several good shots into the final hole.

The issue of female members at Augusta National has returned to the fore since Rometty was named IBM’s new chief executive earlier this year. IBM is one of the longtime sponsors of the tournament, and its last four CEOs, all males, were invited to be members. Augusta National’s chairman, Billy Payne, has refused to provide a substantive answer to whether Rometty will receive the same treatment, saying the club’s membership decisions are private.

“Just Another Face in the Crowd”

IBM also has declined to comment, and security around the company’s hospitality cabin at Augusta was tight all week.

“That Rometty was able to elude fans and the news media for so long is perhaps not surprising,” The New York Times reported.

“Unlike at many other golf events, there is not a large corporate village at Augusta National, so it is believed that I.B.M. officials welcomed clients at a cabin secluded on the back nine of the golf course.”

The Times headlined its story: “I.B.M. Executive Just Another Face in the Crowd.”

The issue of female members at Augusta was a hot-button issue in 2002, when Martha Burk, then the chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, campaigned for Augusta National to end its all-male membership and threatened to boycott companies whose executives belonged to the club. Hootie Johnson, Payne’s predecessor, responded by cutting loose corporate backers and the Masters was televised without commercials for the next two years.

A planned protest before the 2003 Masters was a dud and the issue slowly receded.

When Payne replaced Johnson as chairman of the club and of the Masters tournament in 2006, he said there was “no specific timetable” for admitting women. The question was raised at the 2007 and 2010 Masters. Both times, Payne rebuffed questions, repeating the club’s policy on privacy relating to membership issues.

Because the secrecy level at Augusta National is so high, there could already be a female member that nobody knows about. Though members are visible during the Masters because of their iconic green jackets, not every member was in attendance this week.

A Tech protest

IBM’s apparent concession to Augusta did not sit well with some people in technology.

Eileen Burbidge, a partner at Passion Capital, a premier early-stage venture capital fund in London who worked for 10 years in Silicon Valley in roles at Sun, Apple, Openwave and PalmSource, launched an online petition calling on IBM and Rometty to pull their sponsorship of the Masters.

“I appreciate that as a private club it has a prerogative to decide, and am certain that I wouldn’t be able to influence a clearly outdated organization to change its views,” she wrote in a blog at Tech Crunch.

“But I would have expected more from IBM — and of us as a tech community to declare this as unacceptable.”