After Royal and Ancient's (R&A) announced they would be eliminating prestigious Muirfield Golf Club from the British Open rota of clubs after failing to vote in favour of admitting female members to their club, the Australia's national governing body of golf, Golf Australia voiced their support of the board's decision
Located in the Scottish Lowlands, Muirfield is the world's oldest golf club, and has hosted the British Open a 16 times.
“We were shocked. But we fully support the R&A decision to scrap Muirfield Club off the rota," said a spokesman from Golf Australia who wished to remain unnamed.
Like most old well-established golf clubs is steeped in tradition. One of those traditions is admitting men-only members. As the feminist movement prevailed, membership rule has expanded to include women as well, but not always as full and equal members.
Muirfield is one such club that has remained resolute in upholding the tradition of male-only members well into the 21st century.
"These things have gone on too long to go on with sometime. So it’s understandable [Muirfield] were deleted from the rota," he said.
Though times are changing, referring to men as members but women as associates is still a “longstanding tradition of all golf clubs”. However “the trend is generally moving away from those terms" , the spokesman assured SBS.
“Even when you when you walk into a golf club you’ll see an honour board for Associate Champions [for women] and Member Champions [for men]. It’s just a reference to an archaic time,” he said.
“Even when you when you walk into a golf club you’ll see an honour board for Associate Champions [for women] and Member Champions [for men]. It’s just a reference to an archaic time,” Golf Australia told SBS.
Sexism in golf is also live and well here in our own country. Only last November did top tier club, Royal Queensland Golf Club, allow women to acquire full membership. The club's vote gave women, who until then had been club associates, the right to vote in club matters, sit on the board, and play on Saturdays.
“When those votes became public, people realised this wasn’t a joke anymore," Golf Australia's spokesman said. "There’s just no reason for discrimination.”
Though we have no clubs in Australia that outright deny entry to women, several clubs still lack both the amenities and club culture to support female golfers.
"Some clubs don't have a female changerooms, or they had one but it's been locked all the time, little things like that that make it hard for women to join their clubs," Serrin Cooper told SBS, Golf Australia's Female Participation Coordinator and spokesperson for 'Swingfit', a female golfing initiative founding by Golf Australia.
Golf Australia is "investing" in ways to get more women involved in the game as "part of their strategic plan".
"They're making it a priority. And our programs are based around what women want," she said.
Apart from offering classes, social sessions, and fun activities for women 18 and over, Swingfit provides consultative advice to golf clubs seeking to boost their female member/associate intakes.
These suggestions, which address the “barriers most modern women face”, include flexible membership options a more relaxed dress code, reminding women golf is a non-contact sport, and emphasising the social nature and relaxing nature of the sport.
Ultimately, Australia's authoritative board on golf stands by R&A's decision and hopes to see a day when female golf is truly on par with the male alternative.
“We’re working hard to get over that perceived stereotype people have about golf. Golf is moving with the times," said Cooper.
SBS has reached out to other top tier golf clubs in the country including Royal Melbourne Golf Club, NSW Golf Club, and The Lakes Golf Club.