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Butler National Eyes 21st Century Membership Stance

Teddy Greenstein reports that all-male Butler National is so desperate to return to the tournament stage, they might welcome Women-Americans. Strange times indeed!

If those governing bodies say yes — and industry sources believe they will — then the club's board would make a recommendation and be poised to take a vote among its members. A strong majority, believed to be three-quarters, would have to approve the change.

A U.S. Open could be worth $5 million to the club, industry analysts say, easily offsetting a migration of members who want the club to remain all-male. But that's just an estimate, given that the next available U.S. Open is in 2020.

Ed Sherman wonders, however, if this'll really happen with no near-future major dates available, no guarantee of anyone clamoring to return to Butler National, and that pesky problem of what to do with a clubhouse designed with grown men in mind who work out their unresolved issues by walking around naked.

The lavish clubhouse features big picture windows and the interior is mostly open without walls separating the various areas, such as the locker room. It's fine for an all-male membership, but not with women walking around.

Needless to say, having women on the grounds would fundamentally change the feel of Butler. Not that guys are snapping towels at each other's behinds, but there is a certain male vibe to the place.

Oh don't sell them short Ed, I'm sure there are some tremendous slouches there too.

Also, any bid to host a tournament would open up the club to scrutiny about its membership policies. You'd have plenty of people poking around the place.

For all those changes, what is the benefit for the club? The chance to host a major championship 12 to 15 years from now?

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Reader Comments (37)

I hear Gloria Allred is looking for a club.
We could start talking about Augusta National and St. Andrews, that still don't allow women to become members. A clear case of hypocresy of the PGA Tour & USGA
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStevie
There is a fundamental difference between Augusta National and the R&A (presumably this is the club to which you refer). The former is course-owning and the latter isn't.
Maybe a faction of log cabin republicans lost interest in their Butler National memberships
02.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
"For all those changes, what is the benefit for the club?"

Perhaps to not be included on the list with ANGC of dinosaur institutions is one. Or maybe the return of the BMW far sooner than a major.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterFWIW
snark aside, Butler would solve a big problem for the USGA by providing a Chicago venue, IF they want one. Why Butler members would want more blog postings like this one, which they surely will get with a public profile, is beyond me.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhil
"We could start talking about Augusta National and St. Andrews, that still don't allow women to become members. A clear case of hypocresy of the PGA Tour & USGA"

You don't apply to join Agusta. You are invited. That is the members choice.
Obviously they have not, as yet, found a suitable female invitee.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterFan
First-the masters is run by the club, not the tour...don't like their membership policy, don't play. dont watch. dont go.

Second, St.Andrews is a public golf course. so who cares about anything else.

third. why would anybody want the BMW? maybe a sole-owner club--its advertising. maybe a big family club--they need 20+ new members every year. A club with a small budget and a strong membership that need 5-10 guys a year? maybe the president or the board wants it, but the guy who has gotta find another place to play for two weeks to a month, and live with the damage done--he doesnt care.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Fan "Obviously they have not, as yet, found a suitable female invitee." That might win for most condescending and chauvinistic comment on this blog in a long time.

And we wonder why more women don't play golf, you don't go where you clearly aren't wanted. Earth to golf, women aren't second class citizens to be avoided in order to have quality time. You want to go have an all male foursome for guy time - cool, but you don't exclude people from clubs.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf
I miss the tone of this site back in the olden days. Posters like "Fan" and Hugh Leonard had no place here back in the day...

Mysogynistic posts and childish banter are not what this site is about. While I keep my chuckles to myself when the talk turns (as it always has here) about the sanctity of the game, it's the churlish infantile sexist behavior that bothers me here.

Grow up or get out of here. You add nothing to the discussion or this site.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPete the Luddite
[quote]The lavish clubhouse features big picture windows and the interior is mostly open without walls separating the various areas, such as the locker room.[/quote]

On reading this again, sounds like the m'ship is made up of a bunch of deviants!(lol)
I'm fairly familiar with the golf market here in Chicago and I think there are some pretty compelling "business model" issues that suggest that Butler will end its men-only rule. First and foremost, the natural mission of the club's golf course is to test the best in the game. By the best in the game, I don't mean the best single digit investment bankers, lawyers and doctors in town. The course is fairly begging for professional competition. There's a lot of truth to the oft-heard statement about Butler that one could hold a US Open on a month's notice at Butler. The course is that challenging and typically in that kind of condition. But on another level, there's some sense that Butler, like a lot of clubs around the country, is trying to figure out where the next generation of members will come from. They're not hurting by any means, but there's no question that they are trying to get a bunch of new, younger members. Prohibiting women is not a particularly good plan for a lot of those potential members. Furthermore, the lure of being a member at a club that hosts a pro tournament is something that would surely help draw members. I think the club is finally trying to be more forward thinking and getting rid of the prohibition of the fairer sex is the first and biggest step in the right direction. I think it will be done before the year's end.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
What a joke boat. Give me the totalitarian planned parenthood( paps smear and birth control for all!) versus the oligarchy of the right anyday of the month or week. Back to golf. But it's amazing the ideologues feels threaten by a tiny tiny tiny bit of money going to help the likes of your sister or wife or daughter. Butler can live in the 19 th century if they please, but who the heck wants to hang around with a bunch of men?
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterA3
Nothing draws a crowd like people trying to change the rules at somebody ELSES golf club.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
@Pete the Luddite

My apologies for offending you, and perhaps others. However, I was trying to make a point about ANGC, which is arguably the most famous golf club in the States, as well as other "exclusive clubs". There has been significant time and discussion on this site and others about the health of amateur golf. I believe that the status quo at ANGC and other clubs, such as Butler, which proudly proclaim that they affirmatively choose to not want 50% of the population as members, simply because of genetic make-up, is a significant part of the problem. Such policies, accepted by the PGA Tour and USGA, clearly signal to women golfers that they are,at best, second-class, and discourage their participation. I also believe that the "exclusiveness" of the sport discourages men, because of class or race, to take-up the game. In my opinion, as long as the golfing world celebrates ANGC, and other exclusive clubs, participation at the local amateur game will continue to drop.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHugh Leonard
If tlavin is correct in his supposition that Butler Natl. may be trying to adapt rather than get naturally selected out of the elite golf club gene pool, then more power to them. Better late than never.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike T.
If a club didn't exclude people for one reason or other it would not be private. Anybody can start a private club and establish whatever crazy (but legal) membership criteria they want.

The golf club I want to join is one that will not let in slow players.
Tlavin's post is on the money. Also, having played Butler a couple of times, it's way too difficult for the average 13 handicapper (me), and the members are very proud of its difficulty. If so, you want the pros to be humbled as well. So it may be why they are finally seeing the light.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSari
Among the best 5 courses in the land ... too bad it's the property of a bunch of aholes who turned down Michael Jordan. (I wonder why?)
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAK47
At least 80% of the rounds of golf are played at public courses and yet the politically correct are worried about some miniscule number of clubs excluding women. What prevents so many women from playing is their inability to function on a golf course except within the cocoon of some elaborate structure of personnel arranging their schedules and games. The game is in decline on the private club side because so many clubs have attempted to be all things to all people. It is precisely women who insist that the private club accomodate their every social whim and who demand to have their organized play because only a few can make a game on their own. At small clubs with individual memberships, the tiny number of women cause 90% of the problems for the other golfers and the staff. This is exactly what will happen if Butler maintains individual memberships and opens such memberships to women.

Obviously there are a great number of wonderful women in the game but the fact remains that an inordinate percentage of women golfers have a hard time functioning in the game and create a disproportionate part of the problems at clubs and courses. Finally, it is the growing power of women to prevent men from playing that is one of the primary reasons for the decline in the number of rounds of golf played. At the same time, this newfound power of women to lord it over their men is not matched by a corresponding use of such freedom by women to take up the game or use the time to play more golf.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterboatwrightfan
And today's award for Biggest Sexist in Shackland goes to.......boatwrightfan. I'd write more than that, but you're not worth the electrons. May you spend the rest of your life playing behind slow-playing foursomes.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPete the Luddite
Hugh Leonard -

The golfing world has been celebrating ANGC since at least the 1950s and yet that did not prevent the explosive growth of the American game in the 1960s through 1990s. Any celebration of Augusta National has little to do with causing the supposed decline of the game in recent years. The decline of the game is much more due to the growing attack on success in this country, the absurd time required to play at so many courses that are too difficult for many (read Nicklaus-type architecture) and general economic difficlties in recent years, to name only three reasons among many others.

Why do people play the game? There is no simple answer and some of the answers show that, remarkably, the game can accomodate people with completely conflicting reasons for playing. Some like the young Venturi loved the game in his early days because of the isolation it provided in pursuit of conquering the game and getting away from personal problems. On the other hand, one could argue that golf is the greatest of social games in part because there is so much time available during the course of a round to get to know one's companions.

There is also the fact that almost all golf clubs/courses, from ANGC, Seminole, Cypress Point and Pine Valley, on the one side, to the most apparently modest of munis, on the other side, have great people among their players and some of these people can form their wonderful little groups with common interests at each of the places. There is not enough attention given to these little groups at the wide range of public courses. Contrary to those who want to homogenize Butler National, these little groups do not tend to warm the hearts of the utopian advocates of diversity, most of whom rarely spend any time with people much different from themselves anyway.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterboatwrightfan
Interesting to read this article from Golf Digest about how shortsighted men can be about female players
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStevie
Why have the Boy Scouts? Why have the Girls Scouts? The YMCA? The YWCA? Just abolish ALL clubs, organizations, tribes, religions. Let all the boys and girls run around naked with each other...send in the clowns...everything is everything...peace, love, one big Human Family...right on!
02.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb
Pete -

I love your posts and keep on sending them as it is your right for what little time we may have left in this country. Nevertheless, if you talk to people who staff private clubs and run public courses, they will confirm what I have said on the subject of many - not all - women in the game. Of course, these staffers and operators will not make such statements publicly - well, except Jackie Burke, Jr. - because the truth is increasingly not a defense from the deluded and utopian.

Hugh -

For the time being, offending people is not a crime and should not be a crime. There is a difference between offending people and physically harming them. The ease with which so many people are so easily offended is a significant reason that rational discussion has declined and that college campuses are no longer places of freedom of expression. Keep your posts coming and do not worry about offending Pete. There is hope that he like so many other posters will begin responding with discussion rather than personal attacks.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterboatwrightfan

Get a life.
I was only stating their policy.
It does not mean that I agree with their position.
Although I must admit that it is their Club and neither you nor I have any say in how they procede.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterFan
Wow...alot of back and forth here.

This is about how a PRIVATE club operates. It's their club and they can run it as they see fit. If the membership TRULY wants to have a big pro event there and vote for it...then they will have to adapt their membership polocies. If they don''s their deal and not our place to say "good" or "bad".

Problems start when you get a minority of professional committee sitters who make decisions on behalf of the majority.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Would those who demand that men-only clubs open themselves up to having female members, also complain if a women-only golf club excluded men from joining? I'm sure there are plenty of women who would like to have a golf club where men don't get in the way. Are they wrong too?

Surely, the purpose of a club is to create a place where people with a common interest can get away from the outside world and spend time with kindred spirits. If that happens to be a men-only situation, what business is that of anyone else?
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan
"the purpose of a club is to create a place where people with a common interest can get away from the outside world and spend time with kindred spirits. If that happens to be a men-only situation, what business is that of anyone else? "

That statement makes too much common sense...surely there must be something wrong with it.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb
Anyone know if any course-owning female only clubs exist in the USA? Fewer than a handful in the UK.
Ladies golf club of Toronto. Couple ladies only dining clubs in new york.

And a Junior League and a ladies garden club in every town in the US, large and small.

Women seem to want different types of single sex clubs than men--probably a real shock to the left wing liberal elite.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Did I say somthing wrong.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered Commentersidvicius
I miss the good old days when @Pete could use words like Mysogynistic and Churlish and everyone thought he was so smart. Pete, why do you tell others not to respond to posts and then you do it yourself. I think you and Elf should start up your own Private Club and talk about the good old days. If a club is PRIVATE they can do what they want, right or wrong, that's the bottom line.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin
What happened to the concept of Private Property?

When did Butler National become a collectivist entity that must follow the wishes of those who have no stake in its purchase or upkeep (i.e. self appointed members of the PC movement)?

However, if they voluntarily choose to host an event (such as the US Open) then of course they must comply with the wishes of that organization.

Lets not confuse these two issues - the Butlerinians have every right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness (apparently by walking around with other naked males in the privacy of their building). But the USGA has every right to have a set of rules to conduct their business (by requiring certain equality standards).

Personally I recall attending a Western Open at the place when it became a bathtub after some rain passed thru. The odds of that swamp getting a US Open are about the same as Phil and Rees collaborating on a redo of Cog Hill.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSkeptic
Do Butler national allow minorities?
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNubi
Women at my club have taken over. They spray painted a picture on the ninth green for their member guest just after we applied growth regulators an it took 4 weeks to grow out and there was a bit of lost turf, but I understand the gals that played had a nice time.
02.11.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaboy
was it a picture of Gloria Allred?
02.11.2012 | Unregistered Commentersmails

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