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Join Muirfield? I'd need to be terribly, terribly drunk.

Byline: Lesley Roberts TAKING IT ON

A friend of mine was once invited to play on the hallowed fairways of Muirfield.

He is a man, of course, and quite posh, of course, since they are the two minimum requirements for anyone hoping to swing a stick there.

He's not, however, posh enough to be invited to join. That would need a little bit more. Like a Highland estate or something.

Anyway, he pitched up (as golfers do) in his slacksandv–neck.Akindlygent, insisted on cleaning his clubs before informing sir that he would really have to change into a shirt and tie before going inside to meet his playing partner.

That done, he had to change back into golfing attire before heading on to the course, then back into shirt and tie before breaking for bacon rolls and coffee in the clubhouse.

Then back into golf wear for another spot of play, then back into shirt and tie to stop for lunch. And so the long day wore on.

At the close of play, following many costume changes, he tried to buy his host a drink.

"Sorry, sir," he was told. "Only members are permitted to purchase drinks." And that, as they say, was that.

Frankly, I cannot think of anything worse than spending precious time amongst such self–congratulatory old duffers.

They have wrapped themselves in these nonsensical rules as they blether on in their leather armchairs like the Fast Show's terribly drunk and pretty much incomprehensible Rowley Birkin. Personally, you'd need to get me terribly, terribly drunk to go anywhere near the place. I'd rather poke golf tees in my eyes.

The fact that Muirfield does not admit people like me – women, that is, not paupers – has never been a particular source of consternation.

Let them dress up like Harlem pimps on the course and in the old school tie – the right old school tie, of course – off it in female–free privacy so long as their discrimination does not impinge upon the rest of us.

Their wives will probably be grateful for the peace.

But that changes the minute their course is afforded the publicity and prestige of staging The British Open.

The crowds arrive, the money pours in and Muirfield welcomes all of it – only to slam the door on women again as soon as the last camera leaves today.

All it would take is one golfer, one millionaire Tiger or Rory or Ernie, to say: "Nah. I don't think so. I'm not playing any course that my wife or girlfriend couldn't play with me."

The Muirfield gentry would, I'm sure, be quickly encouraged to change their rules or see the Open change their venues.

Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, doesn't help, to be honest, sounding as if he's just wandered in from an episode of Terry and June to insist: "It is just for some people a way of life they rather like."

Yes, Peter, I'm sure it is for the old boys, tut–tutting into a large malt in the members' bar. For the rest of us, it is a way of life that is sexist, out of time and has to go.

CAPTION(S):

CHEERS Birkin

FLAK Muirfield's been slated for women ban
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 21, 2013
Words:552
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