The news that women are going to be invited to join the very exclusive Augusta National Golf Club, home of the US Masters, is to be welcomed as another barrier broken down. Augusta, infamously, wouldn’t allow black members in until 1990. To break down the gender barrier took ten years of campaigning.
In 2002 the then Chair of Augusta, Hootie Johnson, said that women may eventually be allowed membership sometime in the future but “not at the point of a bayonet”. This was a curious over-reaction to what was a very civil request from a feminist campaigner.
Let’s not kid ourselves, Augusta will still be very exclusive. It has only a few hundred carefully chosen members and the first two women invited included Condoleezza Rice, George Bush’s Secretary of State, and South Carolina financier Darla Moore. Social status and contacts will still be the deciding factor but race and gender are now not going to be as prevalent a factor in keeping people out.
Though I am not a player I am proud of the Scots golfing tradition which has always been much more egalitarian up here than down south or in the United States. The fact that the world’s most famous course, The Old Course at St Andrews, is a public course demonstrates this.
However this egalitarianism has not always been extended to gender. Many towns in Scotland have had separate men’s and women’s golf clubs. Some would say separate but equal. Others call it gender apartheid.
Personally I can’t see why you would want to exclude someone from your golf course or your clubhouse, either a man or a woman, because they don’t have the same chromosomes as you.
One of those clubs still exercising a ban on women is the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers who own the great Muirfield course. This stance has come under fire particularly because next year sees the Open Championship, the oldest in the world, returning to Muirfield. It is also coming under fire for another reason. Greece may have given sport the javelin and the discus but we Scots gave the Olympics the shot, the hammer and the triple jump. In Rio golf will also be added to the number of Olympic sports hailing from Caledonia.
With our women being so successful in rowing, in cycling, in boxing, in taekwondo and at equestrian sports at the London Games what sort of message does a ban on women joining one of Scotland’s oldest sports clubs send out when golf takes the stage at the greatest show on earth in 2016?
It is time for Muirfield to follow Augusta’s lead and admit women into the ranks of their members.
Root and ranch
They said if you can remember the sixties you weren’t there. The same, sadly, can’t be said of the 80s.
My memories of the 80s are of mullet hairdos (and that was Bananarama), big shoulder pads and the rise of the yuppie. Oh and we only had three TV channels until 1982!
The news that Dallas is going to be returning to our screens has prompted these flashbacks. It is sometimes difficult to remember just how popular the glitzy US soap was with tens of millions tuning in to see the evil, scheming JR Ewing on the make.
When he was shot at the end of a series the “I shot JR” tee shirt was born, probably the most popular of that dismal decade. They killed off poor Partick Duffy then decided to have him come back emerging from the shower and dismissing the whole of season nine’s plot as a dream!
Tawdry, vulgar, plain silly storylines, crass and ostentatious displays of wealth and greed, and the sun always shone! Truly trashy escapism in very big hats – the perfect antidote to a dreich Scottish summer.
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Stalingrad. The decisive battle of the Eastern Front is remembered for its brutality and the high number of casualties on all sides. 1.5 million combatants were either killed, missing or wounded and it represented the turning point for the war in Europe. That this anniversary, so critical to the defeat of Nazism, should pass without anyone in the UK marking it is disappointing.