It’s US Masters eve, which means there’ll be countless articles about Tiger Woods’ chances of winning a 15th major; but the big story in Europe is about gender equality in golf.
Back in February, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews decided to end 260 years of male-only membership and include women for the first time as full-paying members.
The first invitees included Dame Laura Davies, Princess Anne, and former world number one Annika Sorenstam. It was considered a major leap forward in equality for women who play golf, but it appears the move has the opposite effect, causing memberships to tumble.
Respected BBC commentator Peter Alliss threw a hand grenade into the debate overnight with his claims that gender equality has ”buggered up” golf at some clubs.
“The equality thing is a great part of golf. Equality for women: a few people battled away to get it, they got it, and they have buggered up the game for a lot of people,” Alliss said.
“There’s been a hell of a row because four golf courses that hold the Open Championship didn’t have women members,” he added.
“I’m told the Ladies Golf Union has lost 150,000 members since equality for women came in. Hundreds of women have left golf clubs because they’ve gone from paying half fare to full fare. It’s caused mayhem.
“All of the wives of members at these clubs could have used the facilities for free. When I was at Muirfield a couple of years ago talking to a few of the lady members, I said, ‘What about this equality? You must be happy about that?’
“‘God no,’ they said. ‘We can come here and do what we like, we can play golf and don’t pay anything’.”
Alliss’s comments were met derisively by some, but applauded by others.
Who are the people women have “buggered up the game for”? Men? Tut tut Mr Allis! http://t.co/J0XytcBLfE
— Tilly WIdgets (@TillyWidgets) April 7, 2015
— Staci D Kramer (@sdkstl) April 6, 2015
The most recent study, undertaken by Golf Australia in 2007, reported that 350,745 men and 94,606 women (total 445,351) were members of an affiliated golf club, 49 per cent of the total golf population.
The national male/female ratio is reasonably consistent across all states with a national ratio approximately 80 per cent men to 20 per cent women. In 2007 9.1 per cent of the total male population aged over 15 years and 2.2 per cent of the female population base played golf.
The New Daily has sought comment from The PGA of Australia.
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