It is 2016, yet Muirfield Golf Club in East Lothian, Scotland, is so set in their ways that they don’t even realize it. I can only assume that their club does not allow the use of the Gregorian calendar (introduced in 1582, approximately 125 years after the first known roots of golf), as its modernity would surely make some members very uncomfortable.
On May 19th, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns Muirfield, announced their decision to retain the club’s male-only policy following a ballot of 750 members. A two-thirds majority is required for changes to take place, but 36% of members voted against allowing women as members.
This prompted the Royal and Ancient (R&A), who runs The Open Championship, to swiftly respond.
R&A statement on the announcement at Muirfield: Going forward we will not stage @TheOpen at a venue that does not admit women as members.
— The R&A (@RandA) 19 May 2016
This is stating the obvious, but the R&A made a great move.
Not only was the R&A’s decision itself the right move, but how quickly they made it hammered the statement home. There was no hesitation or contemplation at all. They turned what could have been a dark day for golf into a positive one. As one of golf’s governing bodies, they took a stand and let the world know that this outdated way of thinking is not reflective of the game of golf.
The decision to retain a male-only membership by Muirfield is nothing but selfish and shortsighted. Besides the obvious gender-equality issues, the 36% of members who voted against allowing women members are not thinking about the big picture for golf. They aren’t thinking about the growth of the game or how the world perceives it. They are simply worried about their precious little boys club.
Golf’s governing bodies are striving for an all-inclusive, global game, and the R&A reiterated that when they announced they would not return to Muirfield for The Open Championship as long as they maintain a male-only policy. A private club does have the right to make their own decisions regarding admitting members, but shunning half of the world’s population from ever being considered? Let’s get real.
Muirfield isn’t just another Curves fitness studio or a weekly poker game with your buddies. Muirfield has been put on the world stage by hosting The Open Championship 16 times. As one of the finest golf courses to host a major championship, they have the power to instill positive influence on our great game. By not admitting women as members into their club, they are doing their part to keep golf in an ancient, dark place. Taking them off of the world stage was the only choice.
So what are the 36% of members who voted to retain the male-only policy really thinking? Well, your guess is as good as mine. They obviously have some deep-rooted issues. Based on my own observations, men who show resistance to having women in the game feel threatened. They aren’t secure with their own game and can’t handle the thought of being beaten by a woman, which would undoubtedly happen.
In a tweet from Golf Digest today, it was reported that Muirfield is holding another meeting to discuss the backlash.
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) May 23, 2016
Muirfield already blew one chance to make a difference. Let’s see if they’ve learned anything.