The recent news that Golfing Governing Body, The R&A, has stripped Muirfield of the chance to host The Open, after members of the Scottish club voted against opening up its membership to women, has added fuel to the gender equality campaign across the UK.
In the wake of the report, Scottish national newspaper The Scotsman, announced they had obtained a letter from the ‘No’ campaign, in which club members voiced their concerns over women joining as members.
Among the reasons offered by members of the all-male club, were concerns over ‘slow play’; fears that women would be made to feel ‘uncomfortable’; potential questionings of the club’s match system, ‘foursome plays’; and lunch arrangements.
When presented with this list of concerns, CEO of the National Centre for Diversity, Solat Chaudhry, commented “If we change the word ‘women’ to ‘black’ there would be an even bigger outcry of unlawful discrimination. Once again, I am shocked that the law allows for this level of discrimination against women.”
Legally this kind of decision may be acceptable, but the National Centre for Diversity takes the stand that this is morally wrong; and we find it hard to believe that the law has still yet to address the issue of gender discrimination, in UK societies and associations.
From the outside looking in, in our opinion, it appears that the current members simply do not want, or rather they cannot be bothered, to change with the times.
Solat continued to say “The National Centre for Diversity fully supports The R&A’s decision, to withdraw the possibility of Muirfield hosting The Open. They took a brave stance in the name of progress and equality”
Despite a 2-year consultation process, we have to wonder what standard of ‘lunch arrangements’ club members expected women to contest, or what kind of match system complaints they anticipate in the long term; not to mention the idea that the pace of the play at Muirfield would be slowed so considerably as to warrant it being cited as a concern.
Whilst we do not doubt that a change in membership policy would likely result in changes to other areas of the institution, that does not necessarily mean those changes would be detrimental to the institution in any way. We would encourage members of Muirfield to reconsider, should another ballot take place.