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"By Ignoring Golf’s Ties To Emirates, We Risk Hypocrisy"

It's fascinating to see how the collective golf world embraced news of Muirfield changing their policy as a sign that all is well. Get that Open back to East Lothian asap! Even though adding women as members is a change that is years away, if it happens at all.

The R&A is rushing to jump on the Muirfield bandwagon speaks to how much the membership discrimination issue is too often about the optics and not the substance. And we all understand the rush buys the R&A another year to potentially avoid a return to Trump Turnberry (even if it means St Andrews in 2021 and Muirfield a year later).

Fortunately, some seem unimpressed, but for different reasons.

Rory McIlroy, openly admitting it's not his favorite course, still make clear he had issues with the club. Brentley Romine with his comments at Bay Hill in advance of the API:

“Obviously I was outspoken about this before whenever the vote went the first time around,” McIlroy said. “I mean, in this day and age, where you’ve got women that are like the leaders of certain industries and women that are heads of state and not to be able to join a golf course? I mean, it’s obscene. Like it’s ridiculous. So, they sort of saw sense. I still think that it got to this stage is horrendous.

“And yeah, I mean, we’ll go back and we’ll play the Open Championship, because they will let women members in, but every time I go to Muirfield now I won’t have a great taste in my mouth.”

Karen Course noted the various dynamics involved and one that often gets overlooked: when the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews started admitting women, they seemed to emphasize a surprising number of women of a certain age. As in, not able to play golf any longer.

Muirfield’s waiting list for membership stretches at least two years, so women will have to keep a stiff upper lip — there will be no line jumping for history’s sake. It is hoped the club doesn’t follow the example of the Royal and Ancient and earmark for membership a couple of nonagenarian women who don’t have time on their side.

But as superficial as some of the actions seem coming out of Scotland, a larger point is that golf is looking past more questionable evidence of serious cultural discrimination.

As Steve Eubanks writes for Global Golf Post, there is a glaring inconsistency related to human rights that needs addressing.

...the strong-arm tactics and faux outrage exhibited by some in golf’s ruling class (not to mention members of the media who get their knickers in a twist far too often) have become a bit much, especially since the vote everyone is praising out of Muirfield occurred the same week that a couple in the United Arab Emirates, arrested on charges of having premarital sex, finally were released from jail after being detained on Jan. 29.

The couple, South African Emlyn Culverwell and his Ukrainian fiancée, Iryna Nohai, were charged under the UAE’s Islamic laws forbidding sex outside of marriage after Iryna went to a local Abu Dhabi hospital with stomach pains and doctors discovered that she was pregnant. The couple could have faced up to two years imprisonment before authorities were persuaded to change their minds and dropped charges last week.

This follows a 2013 case in which a Norwegian woman, who reported being raped in Dubai, was sentenced to 16 months behind bars on charges of unwed sex and drinking alcohol. She later was pardoned and allowed to leave the country. Her accused rapists were never charged.

Eubanks goes on to note all of the ways golf joins forces with the UAE with nary a word about their human rights and democratic deficiencies.

And a question for all of us: Are Arabs in the Emirates held to a lower standard of behavior by the golf world than the gentlemen of Edinburgh? If so, why?

It is fine to ignore the tour taking money from the Emiratis and ignoring their laws and customs. But it’s not OK to then take a high-and-mighty position against an all-male club in Edinburgh, Tokyo, or Chicago where the policies are far less backward and arcane.

Can't argue with that.

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Reader Comments (42)

Finally someone makes that point. No one has a right to join any club they want. One does have a right to not be thrown off a building for having sane sex relations. It would be nice to let a woman drive a car as well. Doesn't even touch on letting someone with an Israeli passport in your country...

But yes, all male clubs. Perish the thought!
03.15.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMark
I try to avoid the political, but these are valid questions that should be addressed. If you hold expectations to one or more course(s) (Muirfield etc.) those expectations should be applied throughout your organization's structural plan. If equality of opportunity is a concern, the UAE situation needs to be re-examined.
03.15.2017 | Unregistered Commentermeefer
The soft bigotry of low expectations.
03.15.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGriffin
Finally! It would be a huge financial blow to the European Tour if they told the UAE to shove their money where most Europeans would like to shove sharia law, but it would be the right thing to do. Having turned a blind eye to that for nearly 30 years is hypocrisy at its worst. Here's hoping McIlroy consults his taste buds whenever the Tour rolls down to the Middle East in the future.
03.15.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Sounds like a great question for the head of Dubai golf, or whatever Peter Dawson's new title is.
03.15.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOB
As Stephen King would say, Needful Things will get in the way of principles. Sharia law goes to the back-burner when a former POTUS decides to wet himself in the presence of King Abdullah, to a collective sigh from his side of the isle before audible outrage. Since we have to forget about government being principled, I guess it's up to golf to do the heavy lifting. That would not be the WGC in Mexico, a deal that went down without a whimper. As Hawkeye notes, the ET taking on the boys at Muirfield will seem like child's play compared to replacing UAE. Time for Mr. Pelley to demonstrate the creativeness we've been hearing about. Anybody up for a Race to Royal Melbourne?
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
McIlroy doing a great job straddling the fence on this one. How do you peg it up with Trump one day and then turn around and lament the membership policies of Muirfield?
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy
As always, follow the money! When the money is as good as it is in the UAE tours, players, sponsors, networks, etc will look the other way....
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterConvert
Amazing...and Trump is the bad guy. It's too bad all those LPGA players didn't fall into lockstep with the rest of the media geniuses. They said Trump was one of the biggest supporters of women golf, in front of the scenes and behind. Maybe someday a grown up will call the BS as it is.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered Commenterwookie
Some valid points, but the Open Championship isn't being played in UAE or Dubai and it was really the R&A that took the issue up with Murfield, not the Euro Tour,'s not so simple.

Anyway, in Hyperbole Today we hear Rors say: "Horrendous, Ridiculous and Obscene" in one continuous thought regurgitation. LOL
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
No one is mentioning the MANY women's only clubs not admitting men. That too, is hypocrisy.

Don't get me wrong, I do not care if Murfield let's women in or not. Just call it like it is and quit acting like it is only one-sided.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarson Pilcher
Thank you, Press agent. My mistake typing ET taking on Muirfield instead of R&A.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Actually, gentlemen in the UAE are not held to a lower standard. Rape is now essentially a victimless crime in the UK, as shown by the rape gangs that were winked at for years by politicians and the British media. And the Queen knighted a known serial pedophile rapist, who preyed on disabled kids in hospitals. So I'd say rape culture needs to be addressed first in the UK and then we can get around to fixing the rest of the world.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterScott
while i take your point, it's comparing apples to oranges. the R&A addressed the rules of a single club, not the laws of an entire country.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered Commenterthusgone
Another reason why Rors needs a PR 101 course. But then again he said he never really wanted to be at school. For as refreshing as people make him out to be in his press conferences, he is also confusing and contradicts himself at every turn. Take for example his comments during the run up to the Olympics when he declined to participate. He said "I didn't become a professional golfer to grow the game. I became a professional golfer to win championships." OK, fine and dandy. Then he changes his tune and says that he declined to play because of the politics involved in having to choose which country he wanted to represent. But he started the song out with the line of "Erica and I want to have a family and Zika just concerns us," even though his U.S. base is Florida which is prone to....mosquitoes?

Move ahead to this week and how he tweets a picture of his letter from Mr. Palmer after winning the US Open in 2011 at Congressional and just raves about it. Read the opening sentence in the second paragraph where Palmer says "I hope you give back to the game that is making you famous." But he didn't become a professional golfer to grow the game I thought?

Sure, the honesty and openness is refreshing to a certain extent. But when you walk around making statements and then going the opposite direction, what's the point?
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon
$$$$$ + accommodation for a religion, however barbaric it may be = collective turning a blind eye

But, on a diplomatic, practical front, engagement with Communist China has produced progress in that country,
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGutta Percha
The best way to help UAE woman is to have as much business and cultural relations with the UAE as possible. In the long run the UAE will go the road of the enlightened countries of Northwestern Europe and every citizen will be as free of religion and as happy as technology allows.
The 'gentlemen' of Muirfield on the other hand have shown that in their case business and cultural relations do not work. For restorations of these relations they will have to wait until their older members have been replaced by younger and more civilized ones.
So true Scott! We British rapists have never had it so good. Good grief you are an ignorant, unpleasant man.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterChico

They playing the Open championship at any of those women's only clubs? I am totally cool with men and women's only clubs, but then don't expect to host a championship open to the public on them. Take the Cypress Point, Butler National Approach.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSari
Chica, I'm glad you concede all of the facts in my post! It's nice to just be insulted, you know you've scored a bulls-eye.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterScott
No not an insult. A statement of fact. You may one day speak some sense- but it hasn't happened yet.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Chica, the problem lies with what you define as "sense." You're an idiot, so do the math.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterScott
Scott - I'm with Chico, as I suspect are most sensible people. One day you may indeed talk some sense. Why don't you head over to some far right ethnocentric blogs so spew your garbage?
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterIan B
I was going to play Turnberry in a few weeks. Not now. I vowed never to play a golf course with the name Trump. It'll be interesting watching the slow process of him destroying the place

07.3.2014 | Ian B


@ Ian B could not have been more wrong.

Geoff recently described Turnberry as such: "Remember, Turnberry last hosted The Open in 2009 and has since undergone a fantastic renovation incorporating former Chief Inspector Architect Peter Dawson's design suggestions. In theory, the spectacular resort should be in line for the next likely open date in 2022."

Again, a "fantastic renovation" and a "spectacular resort", one that was universally loved by the players in the recent Women's British Open Championship.

@ Ian B how about you and your sweater folding buddy join hands and wander off into the sunset together, find a non-US centered website for your circle jerk.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterWayback Machine
As an outsider (Australian), I find it staggering the level of hatred that exists in the US based on one's political ideology. Why don't you just be done with it and split into 2 countries?

08.13.2012 | Ian B


Another beauty by @ Ian B. So you know better huh? Take a hike bud, don't let the door hit you on the way out.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterWayback Machine
I suppose this is why I chose to keep my house in Hyannis as a holiday home rather than live there. Lovely place but too many guns and too many right wing extremist lunatics. I could easily reply to Scott with insulting facts by the truckload which would amuse me but it would offend the vast majority of decent people on here. Wouldn't want to do that. This golfing blog has an international perspective and I applaud Geoff for that. It would be a shame if it became a bastion of right wing extremism.
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterChico
@Chico: I invited him to continue the discussion via e-mail, but he declined. He didn't give a reason, but it's easy to understand why - One; to do so would mean blowing his anonymity and he's too much of a chicken to attach his real name to the views he spreads, and two; he's just a troll who gets kicks out of insulting people from other countries. As they say in internet parlance: "He's just in it for the lols". Just ignore him, as I've promised to do.
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Was wondering about that, Hawkeye. But don't be surprised if you get a hit from the child of a couple of Swedes ;-)

Chico - I'd dump the house if you believe the far right packing guns inhabit Hyannis. On the upside, you won't have to worry about booking the Hy-Line high-speed ferry to Nantucket in advance to play Sankaty Head. AKA, according to Rich Lerner during the Pebble Beach Pro Am: San-Katie-Head.
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
@Wayback Machine. Really, you get some sort of life...
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterIan B
@dmac: That would be welcome! ;-)
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Yes Chica, all those guns and "right wing extremist lunatics" on Cape Cod. Congratulations, you've just made it clear you've never even visited Cape Cod, never mind owning a "holiday home" there. Did you play touch football with the Kennedys too on their big lawn before retiring for cocktails on the veranda?
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterScott
Yes Scott there are too many guns in your country for me to be comfortable but I chose to buy there because it's a nice place. Bought it over 25 years ago when the property market in Mass. was crashing. Got quite a bargain. You should go there. Try the seaside nine at New Seabury or stand on the first at Hyannis and look down at Squaw Island- it might help you chill out!! My friend Ricky used to own the house that adjoined the first tee at Hyannis by the way- so yes the Kennedys were near neighbours of his. But no- I've never had tea there!
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterChico
I don't know Chica, all those guns on Cape Cod make me nervous, along with the fascist sectarian flags you see everywhere -- this is Cape Cod you were talking about isn't it -- or maybe you were thinking of Northern Ireland? If anyone needs to chill out it's you, since whenever I post I can count on you magically appearing within 5 minutes.
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterScott
FWIW, the Kennedy's played at Hyannisport GC. I know, Ethel and the late Michael almost ran over our walking group with a cart at a blind spot one October. And they never even flinched.
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Lovely course D Mac. Quite spectacular when the tide is in! Haven't played it for a few years since Ricky sold his house
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Too bad, Chico. The front still has an old school flavor but the "newer" holes on the back make it seem like two different golf courses, don't you think? Although #17 is an outstanding short hole when playing dead against. And #18 is no bunny if you find yourself above the pin.

Agree on the view from top. However, I'd reserve spectacular for Sankaty Head ;-) The best part about Cape Cod is that you can play Eastward Ho! if you miss the early ferry ;-)
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
You obviously know it well! I genuinely thought I might move there once. Ricky very nearly bought the Ridge Club in Sandwich and I would have managed it for him. Hence the attraction and the property- but it fell through and tbh I like it here! Going less and less now the kids are grown up but who knows- grandchildren may alter that!
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterChico
No reason to move when you feel at home. Bernie Marsden feels the same way about The Beast: "It does everything for me!"
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
That is quite a visual Ian B. and Chica walking off into the sunset holding hands!
03.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBoilermakers!
Carson Pilcher ... you've picked a very poor example to air your grievance. St. Rule Ladies' is not a golf club; it is a ladies' club with a golf section. More importantly, it doesn't have a golf course. Why on earth would you wish to be a member of such a club?

The truth is there are probably fewer than a handful ladies' course-owning clubs in the UK. The only ones I can think of (perhaps chico could help me out here) are, Lundin Ladies' (a 9hole course in Fife), Formby Ladies' (England) own their own course and, Sunningdale Ladies' (England) which may own its own course.

There are, however, a number of non course-owning ladies' golf clubs (St. Rule Ladies' included) who play on public golf courses. Again, why would you want to join such a club?
03.19.2017 | Unregistered Commentergaelgowfer

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