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UK Sports Minister Says Open Championship Should Only Be Played At Non-Discriminatory Clubs

Golf365 quotes a Sunday Times story (not available online) in which UK Sports minister Hugh Robertson thinks clubs like 2013 Open Championship host Muirfield The Honourable Company Of Edinburgh Golfers should not be part of the rota because "it is increasingly anachronistic not to allow women to be members."

"The defence of the Royal and Ancient is that it is a private club and so has the right to do what it wants.

"That is legally correct and I have no quarrel when it is acting as a private club. However, I believe that when a private club fulfils a public function, such as staging a major event, then there is a different slant."

And there was an interesting delineation from Muirfield secretary Alastair Brown, which I puts the ball back in the R&A's court:

"It's not our decision where the Open is. It's the decision of the R&A - it's their competition and they ask us.

"Augusta is a totally different situation. They own their event."

Translation: back at you R&A!

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Reader Comments (17)

If it keeps the R&A from destroying the course every time they go there, I hope Muirfield keeps its exclusionary member policy. If you can't break up with someone, get them to break up with you...
11.11.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric
If it is the "Royal" and Ancient couldn't the Queen tell them to have women members? Just a thought... not a British history expert. :)
11.11.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveAndrews
UK is always 20 years behind the USA.
11.11.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
dont like the membership policy? start your own golf tournament Mr. UK Sports Minister. Offer a bunch of the taxpayers money and maybe some pros will show up.
11.11.2012 | Unregistered Commentersmails
Funny how it's only the male-only clubs that get a hard time and not the women's only clubs. At least this story (below) tackles the issue...
11.11.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
So then Brian, how would you feel about females sharing Saturday/Sunday mornings for your club competitions?
All for it!
11.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
If folks have an issue with women teeing it up Saturday morning they should join a men only club. I don't understand why the concept of a men/women only club would be offensive in a society which cherishes freedom of choice. However, in terms of clubs allowing both genders as members, to determine a class of membership based on gender is an anachronism. Class of membership should be based on choice/merit rather than on the genitalia one is born with.
11.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEl Gringo
@ Brian ... and does this happen at your club?
How many women-only clubs host the oldest and best major championship in golf?

+1 to Alastair Brown. I predict the Open will be moving, soon.

Note: I said championship, not toonamint.
11.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Do your readers realize that there are a number of all female golf clubs in St. Andrews. In fact one of them has its clubhouse about 100 yards from the R & A building thats right next to the 18th hole of the Old Course.
11.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve A
For the billionth time: the issue isn't a single gender club, it's a single gender club hosting a major championship or being in charge of the rules of golf.

So all of the there are women cubs too stuff is just noise. Unless these women's clubs are hosting lpga events, it's not a comparison.
11.12.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf
The Royal and Ancient golf club is different from the R & A which governs the rules of golf and the Open Championship. They were separated in 2004 which has allowed women to take an active part. The all male golf club (Royal and Ancient) has nothing to do with the Open Championship.
11.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve A
@Steve A: Very true. However, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers is a "Boys-Only, No-Gurls-Allowed" golf club, and it is hosting the Open Championship on its privately owned course for the 16th time in 2013. Probably.
11.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Ky-it will hold the Open next year.We are some way off being that politically correct in our governance of the game over here.I would expect it to hold more too-it is a very good course which is the only thing the R and A bothers about.
11.12.2012 | Unregistered Commenterchico
@ Steve A ... think you will find that historically, these non course-owning women's clubs were set up because the men wouldn't allow them into theirs! You will also tend to find the vast majority resided in towns/cities which owned and ran the public links courses. Members of male and female clubs would/do purchase season tickets from local authorities/trusts (at least they do in Scotland) in order to play the courses.

The fact is, there are barely a handful of course-owned/leased women only golf clubs in the UK. Someone mentioned Lundin Ladies'. A great wee course but only 9 holes and leased. The ladies used to have ground adjacent to the men's only Lundin Golf Club (what became their practice ground) but were persuaded to move elsewhere. Don't know the reason for this but I would imagine the lure of more land being offered to them by the then local landowner probably proved too much of a temptation.

Difficult not to be cynical about the sudden interest of british politicians in this subject. Methinks they're content to make the right noises but have no intention of acting upon these new found principles. They were, after all, invited on several previous occasions to legislate on this very issue but on each occasion, proposed legislation didn't even make if past the first hurdle. Indeed, some of the stuff quoted in Hansard is pretty insulting to females.

In any event, it's too late because the EU stepped in and legislated ... badly!
"For the billionth time: the issue isn't a single gender club, it's a single gender club hosting a major championship..."

Why does it matter if a major championship host such as Muirfield or Sandwich is single gender? Its not as if the men and women compete together in majors.
11.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEl Gringo

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