Terrifying prospect of ladies who won't lunch

FOR the ancien régime at Muirfield Golf Club, change is knocking on the door.

But then change has been knocking at Muirfield for decades and the door has remained firmly shut. It has, after all, been the favoured leisure retreat of Scotland's most celebrated judges and advocates among its exclusive list of members. Why should a private club be forced to abandon its rules and traditions and be obliged to march in step with whatever is the prevailing fad and fashion of the public street? It is a private association, not a government quango run by the police of the politically correct. And it is a free association. No-one is compelled to join. It can choose to be half a century behind if it wishes. Indeed, isn't that rather the point of it?

But the tide has certainly turned within the Faculty of Advocates. Lawyers of progressive hue have denounced the club's membership policy as "socially and morally repugnant" and called for a boycott of the clubhouse. The judges and advocates who make up the bench and Bar Golfing Society are due to tee off in the annual foursomes competition at the course on Monday. But female critics of the club are in revolt and have threatened the worst sanction that the legal profession can bring itself to enforce: refrain from lunching in the clubhouse. Can matters possibly get any worse?