With Augusta National finally admitting female members, Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the R&A, which stages The Open Championship, had a tense 45-minute press conference today trying to defend not only the lack of women in his governing-body organization but the fact that there are no female members at this year’s host, Muirfield, along with two other clubs in the Open rota, Troon and Royal St. George’s. He called it “absurd” to compare a men’s-only (or women’s-only) club to one that discriminates based on race. Men like to socialize with men and women like to socialize with women and the media need to get a life, he said in so many words. You could practically see the sweat form on Dawson’s head when a female reporter asked, “Could you just explain to the 10 women in the room why racism is unacceptable and sexism clearly still is?”
“Well, I don't really think, to be honest, and we could sit here all day and debate this, but I don't really think that a golf club, which has a policy of being a place where like-minded men or, indeed, like-minded women, go and want to play golf together and do their thing together ranks up against some of these other forms of discrimination,” Dawson responded. “I really just don't think they're comparable, and I don't think they're damaging. And it's just kind of, for some people, a way of life that they rather like. I don't think in doing that they're intending to do others down or intending to do others any harm. It's just a way of life that some of these people like. And realistically, that's all it is. You can dress it up and be a lot more if you want, but on Saturday morning when the guy gets up or the lady gets up and out of the marital bed, if you like, and goes off and plays golf with his chums and comes back in the afternoon, that's not on any kind of par with racial discrimination or anti-Semitism or any of these things. It's just what people kind of do.”
Clearly, private clubs can do whatever they like, but it becomes a bit of a sticky wicket when the club provides a public function, as they do when they host the Open. What are you thoughts on the subject?