R&A says male-only clubs do no damage to the game, but will review policies after British Open

  • Article by: PAUL NEWBERRY , AP National Writer
  • Updated: July 17, 2013 - 10:15 AM

GULLANE, Scotland — Part defiant and part pragmatist, the head of the Royal & Ancient conceded Wednesday that all-male clubs are a bedeviling issue but insisted the British Open venues won't be pressured into opening their doors to women.

At his customary news conference on the eve of the British Open, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson faced a barrage of questions about the no-women-allowed membership at Muirfield and two other clubs in the nine-club tournament rotation, Troon and Royal St. George's.

He was prepared for the issue, reading from notes that made it clear he believes the issue does little harm to the game and has largely been contrived by the media, politicians and interest groups.

"Obviously the whole issue of gender and single-sex clubs has been pretty much beaten to death recently," Dawson said. "And we do, I assure you, understand that this is divisive. It's a subject that we're finding increasingly difficult, to be honest."

One reporter, touching on the racial discrimination that once pervaded the game, asked Dawson what was the difference between a male-only club and one that allowed only whites to join.

"Oh, goodness me, I think that's a ridiculous question, if I may say so," he replied. "There's a massive difference between racial discrimination, anti-Semitism, where sectors of society are downtrodden and treated very, very badly indeed. And to compare that with a men's golf club, I think, is frankly absurd. There's no comparison whatsoever."

He later added: "It's just kind of, for some people, a way of life that they rather like. I don't think in doing that they're intending to (bring) others down or intending to do others any harm."

Dawson emphasized that he doesn't believe gender-specific clubs stifle the growth of the sport. Still, he knows it's an issue that won't go away — especially since Augusta National admitted its first female members — so the organization that oversees golf outside the U.S. plans to address concerns once the Open is completed.

He wouldn't say what steps might be taken.

"Our natural reaction is to resist these pressures, because we actually don't think they have very much substance," Dawson said. "But I'd like to stress we're not so insular as to fail to recognize the potential damage that campaigns like this can do to the Open championship. And it is our championship committee's responsibility to do what is best for the Open, and to maximize the benefits which the Open brings, not just to golf, but also to the local area.

"When things are a bit quieter, after the championship," he went on, "I'm quite sure we'll be taking a look at everything to see what kind of sense we can make of it for the future. But I think right now our concentration has to be on this wonderful event and making it a success."

Eleven of the 24 questions to Dawson during the half-hour news conference revolved around the topic of male-only clubs. The issue of gender equity is squarely directed on golf's oldest major since Augusta National, home of the Masters, invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become members last summer. Tiger Woods called it "important to golf."

Most golfers have shied away from the issue leading up to the Open, including the top-ranked Woods. When Rory McIlroy, the world's No. 2 player, was first asked about it Wednesday, there was a long pause and a forced smile before he said, "Muirfield is a great golf course."

Later, when someone asked McIlroy if the players had been advised not comment on the issue, he was more forthcoming.

"I just think it's something that a lot of guys don't want to get themselves into because it's quite a controversial issue," he said. "It's something that shouldn't happen these days. It's something that we shouldn't even be talking about."

Ernie Els said it's "weird" that some clubs won't admit both sexes, while Luke Donald said "we'd love to see these policies be a bit more inclusive."

"Wherever the governing bodies decide to play a tournament, it's my job to turn up and be ready and play, and that's what I am going to," Donald said. "I think the R&A is certainly trending in the right direction."

But some prominent Scottish politicians won't be attending this year's event in protest.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Cleveland 11/6/14 7:25 PM
Cincinnati
Memphis 28 2nd Qtr 6:47
Indiana 32
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
Portland 9:00 PM
Sacramento
San Antonio 9:00 PM
Phoenix
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 1 2nd Prd
Columbus 0
Los Angeles 0 1st Prd 13:56
Detroit 1
Anaheim 7:30 PM
Dallas
Nashville 8:00 PM
Calgary
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Memphis 11/7/14 6:30 PM
Temple
Utah State 11/7/14 7:00 PM
Wyoming
(12) Baylor 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(19) Oklahoma
(11) Kansas State 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(10) TCU
Hamilton 0 8:28
Ottawa 0
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close