Alex Salmond has revisited the controversy of his snubbing of the Open championship at Muirfield next week on account of their policy of having no female members.
• First Minister dubs Muirfield’s men-only rule ‘indefensible’
• Salmond attended Royal St George’s, which does not allow female members, for 2011 Open
• He claims he “did not know” their policy at the time
The First Minister answered a charge of double standards by saying that the reason he attended the 2011 Open at Royal St George’s, a club that also does not allow women to become members, was because he was unaware of the situation. “Well, I didn’t know Royal St George’s had that policy and actually learned of the controversy on the day I was there. I didn’t realise that was the case.”
At the end of June, the First Minister signalled his intention to stay away from Muirfield. “I just think it’s indefensible in the 21st century not to have a golf club that’s open to all… To have the message that women are not welcome as members, can’t be members, can’t have playing rights over the course on the same basis as men, seems to send out entirely the wrong message about the future of golf.”
Salmond had added the R&A should have a good think about things and should perhaps politely, behind the scenes, suggest to Muirfield that “the public profile of being a single-sex club would be difficult… I don’t think it helps the game to have the suggestion of a bias against women and the greatest tournament on this planet played on arguably the greatest links golf course should have this impression that ladies, women should be second-class citizens.”
Pressed on how he could not know, given that for several years before the Royal St George’s Open he had been outspoken in his criticism of clubs on the championship rota that did not welcome women members, Salmond, pictured right, made reference to a column in Scotland on Sunday from a fortnight ago.
“I just didn’t know,” he repeated. “Maybe if you’d asked me before you wrote the article I could tell you that. I could list the clubs in Scotland that have that policy, but I didn’t know about Royal St George’s. Maybe I don’t have the same knowledge of clubs outside Scotland as I do about clubs inside Scotland and that’s because I’m First Minister.”
The column in question had mentioned that in the summer of 2011, an Ayrshire couple won £139 million in the EuroMillions lottery. Shortly after their good fortune was made public, a letter popped through their door in Largs from the First Minister. Addressed to one of the lucky multi-millionaires, Colin Weir, the letter began: “Dear Colin. When I was at the Open at Royal St George’s on Friday and heard the fantastic news that a Scot had landed the Euro lottery jackpot, I did wonder if this was the same Colin Weir who helped produce SNP party political broadcasts for a young party publicity vice-convener all these years ago…”
The First Minister also said that it was unlikely that Donald Trump’s golf course in Aberdeen will be chosen to host the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open when it begins a new rota system starting next year at Royal Aberdeen. “In fairness to all areas of Scotland, the likelihood is that the other two course [in a three-year rota] will be in east central and west central Scotland on some of the great links courses there.”