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Did Muirfield Get a Clue?
By Torleif Sorenson on 7/16/13
Since November of last year, a growing storm has been building in opposition to the R&A and various golf clubs in the United Kingdom being men-only. And while private clubs in the UK certainly are permitted to be gender-exclusive under the Equality Act, the major problem is that the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (a.k.a. "Muirfield") is hosting the Open Championship this week.

In November, Nathan told you about how British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan challenged the R&A's male-only policy. One week later, this writer posted these comments on the situation from the UK's Minister for Sport, the Rt. Hon. Hugh M. Robertson:
"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."
To be fair, the club allows women to play the course and use the clubhouse as visitors. The complaint centers around club membership.

Now, Oliver Brown of the UK Telegraph reports that long-time club secretary Alistair Brown (no relation) is expected to be replaced in that role by Stuart McEwen, who was previously part of the Kingsbairns club and more recently the director of golf at the Gleneagles resort. The Telegraph's Brown describes McEwen as a "reformer" who is likely to do away with the men-only membership.

That will not happen this week, so the Open Championship will still be boycotted by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Culture Secretary Maria Miller. They're pretty important politicians, so this is an embarrassment. But with the arrival of Stuart McEwen seemingly in the offing, the pressure on the R&A — one of the two rule-making bodies in golf — to accept women as members will be even more formidable and difficult to ignore.

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[ comments ]
jasonfish11 says:
Think you meant men-only in the 1st sentence.

But I was always rooting for Agusta to lose a law suit and be forced to allow women members. Because then that would set precidence when I sue Shapes and Curves for not allowing me to join their women-only gym.
Werepuppie says:
This is all ridiculous.Any club should be able to make their own rules.
birdieXris says:
Yea you shouldn't be able to legally impose anything on a private club or business. JMO. If i don't like it, i won't play there or won't buy anything from there (which is why i don't shop at walmart) but thats' the first step on a slippery slope if you start saying you HAVE to do something.
jasonfish11 says:
BTW I agree with both of you that private organizations should be free to do what they please (assuming it isn't harming other people).

Was just pointing out no-one complains about women-only organizations.
bkuehn1952 says:
Private organizations generally should be allowed to select their own membership. When clubs play a role in large international public events (e.g. The Masters or The Open), however, I see no problem with questioning exclusionary membership rules. Creating as level a playing field as possible is the right thing to do. Since membership in some of these exclusive but publicly active clubs carries with it some advantages in business and political circles, membership rules should not exclude large segments of the population solely on factors like race or gender.
Torleif Sorenson says:
Brian, thanks for articulating that point.
Wes11point5 says:
Wah wah wah, gimme gimme gimme!
C-4 says:
Who cares..if someone does not want you in their club...why would you want to be in there club??? That takes all of the fun out of being in the club in the first place. Penis envy is a mother! if a club does not allows blacks...cool..i wont be going nor would i want to go anyway....I surely would not patronize that organization!
joe jones says:
Groucho Marx when asked about joining a specific club said, "I wouldn't want to be a member of any club that would want me as a member".
[ post comment ]
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