Golf Digest have unearthed some savage, yet eloquent, destroyers of Murifield’s decision to refuse women membership.
As many of you will be aware, Murifield voted unanimously to exclude women from their membership. The decision placed them at the centre of media scrutiny, and resulted in the R&A’s decision to remove them from the Open Championship rota. The sentiment of the club was summed up in the words of an 81-year-old member:
“Not so much a vote against the ladies as a vote against the media and the press telling us what to do.”
“No-one likes being hammered all the time. We knew what was going to happen with the R&A and The Open, but we feel that we had to prove a point with a strong bunch behind the vote.”
The argument was a classic case of conservatism versus progressiveness – neither are dirty words in this context, so relax. Some in the golf sphere jumped to Murifield’s defence, “it’s their club, they should make the rules” was the banner they marched under. On the other side you had, oh, heaven forbid, actual women with a voice; a truly shocking situation to those Murifield members who can still recall that young, petulant upstart, Joan of Arch.
Some of golf’s most prized fossils waded into the debate – and by wade I mean fell down the stairs with a double-hip dislocation. One such man was the wise and invariably respected Peter Allis.
“The women who are there as wives of husbands, they get all the facilities. If somebody wants to join, well you’d better get married to someone who’s a member.”
“I don’t know about you,” writes Marina Hyde of the Guardian, “but I think if I were to enter into a marriage of state, I’d require in return something like dibs on the Habsburg empire, as opposed to the chance of a silent G&T in the 19th with a man who switches channel when Cialis adverts come on…”
I thought this was a clever blow to a group of men who are failing to observe one crucial fact: that we try to treat women equitably in 2017 because it’s no longer 1749 – the date Murifield was formed. How can you blame a gender who were, until recently, excluded from forming any comparable institution?
I understand that Murifield is a private club, but to exclude women from an institution, the likes of which they could never have founded (historically) is plain wrong. Women couldn’t build Murifield, St. Andrews, Turberry or any other course that boasts such a history because of the times. You couldn’t get much done from a reading room, a slightly cliched example of where a 19th century woman might find herself tacitly imprisoned.
“Indeed, the good gentlemen of Muirfield should be under absolutely no illusion: watching their twice-yearly insistence on making pillocks of themselves is a hundred times more entertaining sport than anything that could be viewed on their course. If they feel they must persist in this particularly savage brand of self-satire, then it is not for us to impede their journey.”
That was Rod Pampling’s wife delivering one last laconic smackdown to the members of Murifield. Gary Player leads a host of players and former players who agree that this situation is backward:
“As much as I love and respect Muirfield as a club where I won the Open, I totally agree with the R&A that staging the championship at any venue that does not admit women is simply unacceptable.
Have a listen, you old bastards.