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SBD Global/July 18, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

R&A CEO Peter Dawson 'Hints' At Review Of Men-Only Golf Clubs Ahead Of Open

R&A CEO Peter Dawson inspects the course at Muirfield.
Royal & Ancient CEO Peter Dawson "gave the slightest of hints" that he would "look into the issue of men-only clubs'' on the Open Championship rotation, according to Peter Dixon of the LONDON TIMES. With the topic "brought under the spotlight" at Open Championship host Muirfield this week -- a club that remains staunchly all-male -- Dawson said that he felt the debate "was being driven primarily by the media, but accepted that it was not going to go away." Dawson: "We will have a good look at what people are saying and try to take a view about all of this and find a sensible way forward. I’m absolutely not going to pre-empt what’s going to come out this. I wouldn’t even want to call it a review. But we are very conscious of the disparity of view on this subject." Much of what Dawson said "has been said before." He "is convinced that few people are truly bothered by the existence of single-sex golf clubs" (LONDON TIMES, 7/17).

VOICING THEIR CONCERNS: The London TELEGRAPH reported Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond is among the political figures who have said they will not attend the Open at Muirfield, describing the club's membership policy as "indefensible in the 21st century." Similar protests "occur when the championship is staged at Royal St George's and Troon" -- the other clubs on the nine-strong Open rotation to be men-only. Dawson said, "The whole issue of gender and single-sex clubs has been pretty much beaten to death recently." Dawson: "Single-sex clubs are in a very small minority in the U.K. Half of them are women only, half of them are men only. They're perfectly legal. In our view they don't do anyone any harm and we think the right of freedom of association is important" (TELEGRAPH, 7/17). SKY SPORTS reported Dawson said, "We've got politicians posturing, we've got interest groups attacking the R&A, attacking The Open and attacking Muirfield. To be honest, our natural reaction is to resist these pressures, because we actually don't think they have very much substance." Sky Sports golf analyst Denis Pugh "was another to voice his concerns."  Pugh said, "It's a fantastic golf course and it's good for the Open but it's inconceivable to come to somewhere where there's a ban on anyone. This is called the Open not the 'closed' and I'm not sure I'll be able to explain to my wife she's not allowed in certain areas" (SKY SPORTS, 7/17).
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