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SBD Global/April 25, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Royal & Ancient Refuses To 'Bully' Male-Only Golf Venues For Open Championship

R&A CEO Peter Dawson defended the governing body's stance on male-only clubs.
The Royal & Ancient "has defended its continued stance in allowing men-only clubs to stage the Open Championship," according to James Corrigan of the London TELEGRAPH. R&A CEO Peter Dawson claimed the governing body would be “bullying” if it insisted courses such as Muirfield, this year’s venue, admitted female members. The Open is "the only one of the four majors to be played at single-sex clubs" after Augusta’s recent election of two females. Dawson welcomed Augusta’s decision as "a positive move for golf," but refused to cast men-only clubs "in a negative light." Dawson: "To think the R&A might say to Muirfield, ‘You are not going to have the Open any more unless you change your policy’ is frankly a bullying position that we would never take." There are nine courses on the Open roster, three of which (Muirfield, Royal St. George’s and Royal Troon) do not have any female members. However, Dawson "was keen to point out" that only 1% of the golf clubs in Great Britain are single-sex and, to his knowledge, "there are no clubs which do not allow women to play their courses." The trio of male-only Open courses "all allow women to play as guests or visitors." Dawson "is expecting criticism" during the Open week in July, but believes the issue will be overblown by "the chattering classes." (TELEGRAPH, 4/24).

THE GREAT DEBATE: In London, Ewan Murray wrote the establishment of gender-specific clubs happened during a time when "golf and society were far more male-dominated environments than they are today." Elsewhere, "life has moved on." Dawson: "My personal position is that I totally believe in equality, but I do also believe that there are times when men need to socialize with men and women need to socialize with women. I think that reflects majority opinion and I don't think there's much wrong with that as long as nobody is disadvantaged by it" (GUARDIAN, 4/23).
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