Switch to channel 402 and all you’re bound to hear is in or out, the date June 23 or David Cameron and rival Boris Johnson outlining their cases. This, in contrast to a bunch of flatulent old fogies further up north at Scotland’s Muirfield GC in Gullane, where the winds of change have ground to a halt.
Of the 616 votes, a majority of two thirds was needed to admit women as members, but just like a putt stopping agonisingly short of the hole, the “no” campaigners triumphed by a mere 14 votes last Thursday.
To think that only a few votes stood in the way of revolutionising a club’s archaic 272-year history is terribly sad. Even more unfortunate is the reasoning behind the proposal which only surfaced because of unrelenting pressure mounted on the links establishment by the media at the 2013 Open Championship. Issues of “speedy play” and interference of lunch arrangements top the list.
But, wait, it gets better. A letter compiled by members has been leaked in the wake of the announcement underlining the “risks” associated with allowing women (heaven forbid) to have equal footing. “Our special nature – ‘a gentleman’s club where golf is played’ – is quite unique with its fraternity built inter alia on foursomes play with a round taking only the same time as lunch and leaving enough time for a further round after lunch (even in mid-winter)”.
Oh dear. So the thinking is that women will question their foursomes play. Are they suggesting that the fairer sex is incapable of playing alternate shot? Oh, I get it. Women fail miserably in keeping up since their partners would’ve placed them in precarious spots or even in hazards therefore wasting time taking drops and so on. Like male golfers are immune to this?
And it’s also assumed that females aren’t aware of all the rules, let alone applying them. Their second gripe, was of course, connected to their bellies, claiming the admission of women to their holy grail would only interfere with their precious lunch arrangements. Not caveman-like at all. They are also worried that lady golfers won’t be able to cope with the demands of the East Lothian links layout.
And that it would take a “very special lady golfer to be able to do all the things that are expected of them in the suggested template”. I think templates are best left for page layout or craft projects. Grievances aside, the fact remains that Muirfield – where our Gary Player and Ernie Els have won Claret Jugs – no longer forms part of the 10-course rota system for the Open Championship.
The R&A has said it will review the decision should the club change its policy and until then, the golf club can look forward to a very lonely time ahead. Several top players have tweeted their disgust and their refusal to ever grace Muirfield’s fairways again including 2002 champion, the Big Easy.
And while the members mull over a decision which will hardly affect the club’s livelihood, I hope matters have since improved at some of the more la-di-da clubs in the UK. I’ll never forget having to pay close to a hundred quid for a round of golf in the middle of winter at the swanky Hankley Common GC only to discover zero halfway house facilities.
Talk about being caught with your pants down.