Those old stone walls are closing in...
Dog-piling on the R&A
By Torleif Sorenson on 11/14/12
Last week, we told you about Lord Moynihan's challenge to the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of Saint Andrews, demanding that they begin to accept women as members. Remember, this is one of the two golf rule-making organizations in the world.

In an interview with the London-based broadsheet The Sunday Times, the Rt. Hon. Hugh M. Robertson, a British Member of Parliament and the UK's Minister for Sport, added his voice to the demands:
"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."
Another sticking point with the R&A is their repeated practice of holding the Open Championship at men-only clubs. This includes "The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers" (a.k.a. Muirfield), which will host the 2013 Open Championship, and Royal St. George's, another men-only club that hosted the 2011 Open Championship.

While some point to Augusta National's decision to welcome two women as club members, a better analog in the United States might be Butler National Golf Club outside Chicago. Unlike Augusta National, where women have played golf for decades as guests, Butler National still does not even allow women on the property. It was only after the 1990 PGA Championship scandal erupted that the PGA Tour yanked the former Western Open from Butler National because of their men-only status.

Before the 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek in Alabama, club founder Hall W. Thompson caused a firestorm when he told a local newspaper that Shoal Creek would...
"...not be pressured into accepting" black members. "This is our home, and we pick and choose who we want."
Following the inevitable outrage, Shoal Creek extended a membership invitation to local insurance executive Louis J. Willie. Since then, not only has Shoal Creek welcomed other Americans who happen to be black, but they now have former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice as a full member. The USGA responded by awarding the 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship to Shoal Creek.

In his piece last Thursday, Nathan said he would be surprised if the R&A was still men-only by the time the 2016 Olympic Summer Games open in Rio de Janiero.

For me, the question is whether or not the proverbial blue-bloods of the R&A will "feel the flames" by the time the men-only club at Muirfield hosts the 2013 Open Championship. This may not happen in time, but it will be interesting to see how long the R&A flails away at the rest of the world before finally getting a clue.

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Image via Flickr, Graham & Marion

[ comments ]
joe jones says:
Seems to me The Royal and Ancient has a lot more problems on it's plate than reaching a decision about banning long putters.If the stogy old farts can't use common sense on allowing women to play,nobody should pay any attention to any decision they make on golf.
[ post comment ]
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