AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) _ A federal appeals court rejected Martha Burk's emergency request to allow protesters outside the front gate of Augusta National Golf Club.

The ruling Wednesday by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals came just hours before the Masters was scheduled to begin Thursday morning.

Burk, who heads the National Council of Women's Organizations, plans to protest Augusta National's all-male membership during the third round Saturday.

She wanted to place picketers at the front gate of the exclusive club, but Sheriff Ronald Strength would only approve a site a half-mile away. He said it was unsafe to gather in front of the club because of heavy congestion during the golf tournament.