"By Ignoring Golf’s Ties To Emirates, We Risk Hypocrisy"
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 07:46 PM
Geoff in R&A, State of the Game

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.

Article originally appeared on A blog devoted to the state of golf. (http://www.geoffshackelford.com/).
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