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Royal Burgess golf club may lift ban on women

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thought this might be an interesting topic for discussion

 

http://www.scotsman.com/news/scotland/top-stories/royal-burgess-golf-club-may-lift-ban-on-women-1-3186003

post #2 of 11

Ha!  I thought the Royal Burgess might be in Saudi Arabia and that would be a topic for discussion.  Imagine the Saudi girls in golf attire teeing  up a bright orange ball  in the desert. Oops, how to swing in a big black burqa?

post #3 of 11

I support private clubs right to select their own membership.  Exclusionary membership rules are odious but people with such a narrow view of the world deserve to be able to congregate with their fellow misanthropes.

post #4 of 11

It's an issue that won't go away, and with golf due to make its Olympic debut in 2016 and Royal Troon holding the Open a few weeks before-hand I can certainly see some embarrassing questions being posed to the IOC by British journo's on this one given that the whole principle flies in the face of the Olympic spirit. I'm not sure the R&A have thought the timing of their award to Troon through. One detected they were increasingly uneasy about Muirfield this year who along with Royal St Georges (Sandwich) are the third on the Open roster who practise a gender policy. 

 

I think there is an acceptance in some quarters that the private members clubs can choose who joins etc and it's often reported (and never challenged) in the UK that we have more women only clubs and then men only, but the issue is whether these clubs should be awarded to prestige of hosting an Open Championship. Scotland isn't short of candidate courses to replace them and there is a strong argument to suggest the compliment could actually be boosted from a golfing perspective if the likes of Dornoch or Kingsbarns could be introduced

 

Burgess is the oldest club with a verifiable continuous history in the world (1735) and I have to say that in my own discussions with them they've not lived up their reputation. They are a central Edinburgh club after all and can't be totally imune to the changing moods and attitudes. 

post #5 of 11

I think this "well there are plenty/as many/more women's-only clubs of various sorts as there are men's club's" argument doesn't hold a whole lot of water for several reasons.  First, most of those women's clubs are probably clubs involving craft-type activities that no man has ever shown any interest in joining.  I bet that most craft clubs and a fair number of bridge or other card game or book clubs that have all female memberships would allow a man to join if a member said "My boyfriend/husband loves [this game or our book selections] and wants to join."  The membership of most of those clubs is single gender not because of practices of exclusion by females but because of lack of interest by males.

 

Second, a person could very easily want to join a golf club just to be able to play the course; it's not as if there many all-women's golf clubs, if any at all.  If there were just as many all-women's golf clubs as men's clubs and they were as nice, then the "what about the women's clubs?" argument would make more sense, but that's not the case in the real world, at least the real world of golf   Since even mega-length courses have a variety of shorter tee options for senior and shorter golfers, there's no physical reason why a decent female golfer would be a problem on a golf course and many avid female golfers might look at a particular club's layout and say "That's a gorgeous course, I'd like to play there regularly."  If concern is slow play, have a minimum handicap requirement for all members, remind all members about playing expeditiously, and send a ranger or marshal around to bother any group that is getting too chatty, regardless of gender.

 

Third, it's well-known that a lot of business occurs on the course or in the clubhouse of private golf clubs and business opportunities should be available to anyone who has the talent and drive to be in a position to make such a deal, regardless of gender.  When's the last time that anyone has heard of two women closing an eight-figure deal at their weekly knitting or canasta club?  I think only a dull-witted bigot would argue that it's OK to discriminate on the basis of race.  If it's wrong to preclude an individual from potential business opportunities based on the color of skin he had at birth, why is it any less wrong to discriminate against a different individual because she had slightly different anatomy at birth?

post #6 of 11

It's possible that I didn't make it clear enough, but just to clarify.

 

The observation of there being more women only clubs in the UK then men only clubs was confined to golf. Remarkable as it might seem, it would appear that there are more women only golf clubs, than there are men only golf clubs. I couldn't give you any figures however, I've never seen them presented, but this apparent fact is trotted out each time this argument rears its head. That its never disputed does lead me to think it must be correct. I confess to being surprised the first time I heard it too.

 

I think it's likely to come to a head as I said in the previous post in 2016 when the Open returns to Troon and golf makes its Olympic debut in the same month. If the IOC intervened, perhaps even threatening to remove golf from the Olympic roster which took many years of lobbying to achieve, and in doing so placed the responsibility at the doorstep of the R&A, it would leave them very isolated in the world game. What would they do? I think they'd have ask the likes of Troon, Muirfield, and Sandwich to make a choice on the understanding that if they wished to retain their gender policies it would come at the cost of losing the right to host an Open (which isn't a 'right' anyway). There are no shortage of perfectly credible (some would argue better) courses capable of filling their shoes

post #7 of 11

Faraway, that's pretty amazing - I thought you were referring to clubs in a more general sense that would include such organizations as gentleman's clubs in London (a vastly different thing than an American "gentleman's club" which is a fancier, more polite term for "nudie bar").  Like I said, I don't think I've ever heard of an all-women golf club in the US - a quick look on Google turned up some women's clubs (i.e. groups or associations) at co-ed courses, but no females-only golf courses.

 

I agree that if a private club wishes to take advantage of any public privileges, such as non-profit organization tax status or eligibility for hosting a sports tournament on the scale of a professional or significant amateur event, its membership should not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, etc....

post #8 of 11

There is a kind of chronological logic to it when you think about it.

 

The original golf clubs were men only. Excluded women duly established their own, and retaliated as such by excluding men.

 

Undoubtedly the women's clubs were set up to service women players. The consequence of this is that no men sought to play them (they wouldn't want to). Also the women only clubs wouldn't have been as famous, wouldn't be as well maintained (rich in other language), nor would they be pestige locations. They''d be distinctly inferior. To a large extent their exclusion of men was pretty much a symbolic gesture therefore given that no men wanted to play them, so for decades the arrangement rumbled on.

 

Over the years however the men only clubs started to relax their policies, whereas the women only clubs never needed to as there was no demand by men to play them, and there was only very limited demand from the female members to encourage male membership (usually the result of falling revenues). I would imagine for the most part they were still rankled by those holding out. Gradually the number of women only clubs overtook the number of men only clubs as the men only clubs retreated from their position, which is where we are today. As recently as July this year, it was an argument put up by Muirfield in defence of their own policy. In Scotland today the clubs are represented collectively by the Scottish Golf Union, and the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association

 

The issue of public funding is a bit vexed too. None of the 'apex' clubs that operate gender policies would be dependent on public money. Neither would 'the Burgess'. Their list of members reads like a who's who of millionaires, so the sanction of with-holding funding irks politicians a bit as they know that none of them depend on it. The removal of the Open however and the associated prestige might? Then again, it might not? Having said the IOC might take a hand, it's always possible that nervous sponsors could too? Attendances at Muirfield this year were down on when it was last held on the Lothian links. Coincidence? Prices? Economic climate? we don't know. I'd be surprised if this was due to some boycott though

 

The R&A has no juristiction over the clubs internal politics, but they are responsible for awarding the Open. 2014 sees it go to Hoylake, 2015 its back at St Andrews, and then of course we have Troon in 2016, which I expect could be a bit of an acid test.

 

I think the point you make about the golf course being used for business is an interesting one. The devil in me does wonder if this could constitute a 'barrier to the freedom of trade' as enshrined in the European Human Rights Act? Mind you, if anyone sought to challenge it on these grounds it would spend at least seven years kicking round Strasbourg

 

I think its becoming increasingly more difficult to defend the status quo, and one detects that even the R&A are struggling a bit at times. We've seen other British (should say English really) sporting institutions go through this in the last few decades. Notably in cricket. If these very traditional bastions have relented, and guess what, the world didn't end!!!

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wisguy View Post
 

Faraway, that's pretty amazing - I thought you were referring to clubs in a more general sense that would include such organizations as gentleman's clubs in London (a vastly different thing than an American "gentleman's club" which is a fancier, more polite term for "nudie bar").  Like I said, I don't think I've ever heard of an all-women golf club in the US - a quick look on Google turned up some women's clubs (i.e. groups or associations) at co-ed courses, but no females-only golf courses.

 

I agree that if a private club wishes to take advantage of any public privileges, such as non-profit organization tax status or eligibility for hosting a sports tournament on the scale of a professional or significant amateur event, its membership should not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, etc....

I agree with the bolded portion but otherwise respect the right of private clubs to restrict membership to their clubs on whatever basis they decide.

post #10 of 11

I dont think the IOC should be sticking its nose in to this issue given how they bend over backwards to ensure Iranian sportsmen NEVER come in to contact with Israeli sports men and women during the 2 weeks of the olympic games...and lets not even start about muslim countries who deliberately segregate their teams so men and women NEVER compete together (or have one token woman who clearly wouldnt make the South End on Sea Year 1 cross country team!).

 

To me this is nothing more than feminazi's dictating to "private" individuals or clubs around how they should operate! 

 

IF private clubs change their policies then it should be because that is what their members want and most definately NOT because the left has forced them to change to meet some political correctness agenda! To that end I hope they continue to hold out and change on their own terms, much like Augusta only changed its membership policies when it felt ready.

 

Regards

 

Mailman

post #11 of 11

In latest developments, the Sunday newspapers (never a paragon of accurate reporting) were suggesting the men-only clubs will imminently be "axed" from the Open roster. Now as I said, our press do have a reputation, but in this case they're using attributable quotes to the global head of sponsorship (HSBC) who despite insisting they've applied no pressure, doesn't really do a convincing job "We don't want to be in a position where we're having to justify our sponsorship" and "things are moving. I think they'll (the R&A) make the right decision"

 

Personally I don't expect that the clubs will be axed quite as the newspaper suggests, but they are likely to be given the opportunity to review their position on this, under threat of axe. If Royal St Georges (Sandwich) Troon and Muirfield dig their heels in, and so far as I'm aware they all have wealthy patrons and could survive quite easily without hosting an Open every 10 years, then that will be that

 

Could be interesting to see who replaces them though? We know that Ballybunion has been mooted, and with talk of the USPGA migrating to Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland, one suspects a pre-emptive award to Ulster might be a step nearer. Royal Portcawl (Wales) hosts the 2014 seniors Open, and we know they've been subject of an inspection visit with the view to assessing the viablility etc In Scotland Kingsbarns would have a strong case, and if there is a requirement to keep a venue within close proximity of Edinburgh, then North Berwick might be pressed into action, although I think at something like 75 mins, you could argue that both St Andrews and Kingsbarns are quasi Edinburgh courses in the context of a global tournament. In any event, attendances at Muirfield were lower in 2013 then when they last hosted, so perhaps the Edinburgh argument has lost a bit of currency

 

The left field answer (and one I'd be really keen to try for) is Royal Dornoch. I'm not so sure that some of the reasons given historically for not using Dornoch apply to the extent that they once did anymore. This would be the real 'statement decision'. Dornoch is a world class course and would add to the roster. It's nearly always top 15 on any global list. It would require a bit of investment in course hotel infrastructure, and the A9 from Inverness would also need attention, but long term golf will be richer for having Dornoch on its international programme, and the Scottish brand would be enhanced

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