An open letter to Peter Dawson, R&A Chief Exectuive.
I hope you aren’t offended by my informal introduction, just thought we'd start off on a level playing-field. I’ve noticed that recently you’ve been questioned on your stance of admission of women into the R&A golf club. I don’t like to believe everything I read, but the evidence stands to overwhelmingly prove that you’re not keen on the idea of women becoming members of the Royal and Ancient.
Let me first admit that I’m not a regular golfer. My experience consists of a collection of sweaty games of crazy-golf by the beach and an unsuccessful evening at a driving range which culminated in the epiphany that golf just isn’t my sport. But that shouldn’t rust my carefully worded plea, because let me assure you, I’m equally terrible at all sport.
You looked really quite uncomfortable when the reporters all started to ask why you’re in favour of the gender inequality which seems integral to your interpretation of golf. I don’t blame you. I’d have a big ol’ shiny forehead too if I felt responsible for defending both the history and future of misogyny in sport. Your hassled frown struck an empathetic chord in my heart, and I thought I’d get in touch to explain properly why everyone’s being so horrible to you. I leafed through some books and asked around to see if I could find some justifications for exclusion of women, and have provided explanations as to why they’re the biggest pile of horseshit that I’ve ever had the misfortune to read and smell.
“R&A loves women, silly. You can bring your lovely lady as a visitor or a guest any time you like and we’ll be happy to have her!”
Don’t worry, I won’t discredit your intelligence enough to explain this one.
“GOLF is an acronym of Gentleman’s Only, Ladies Forbidden! We can’t change the name! That’d be overwhelmingly confusing.”
Well that’s a big old lie. Remember what I said about being sceptical of what you read? This is what happened really. I like to imagine that all the men who felt a compulsion to exclude social groups from their privileges were all gathered together in the tavern after a heavy session of golf/circle-jerking, and all of a sudden there was the realisation of the gaping inequality of the system. In those days, inequality was a bit funnier so they constructed a funny little backwards-acronym and slapped it onto the title of their preferred sport. It’s quite a charming little tale. In reality, the word ‘golf’ could be derived either from the Scottish words 'golf', 'golfand' and 'golfing', which mean 'to strike’, and furthermore from the terms ‘chole’ and ‘kolf’, which were the names for medieval stick and ball games in Britain/Europe. Also, I’d be seriously concerned about the future of a sport whose integrity apparently lies its mythical title and sexist subheading.
“There are plenty of women’s only clubs, so it’s plenty fair! Just go and find one!”
An anonymous steward told the Guardian that W.O clubs were formed as a solution to the inequality and lack of respect shown to women in the few existing mixed clubs. The idea that instead of promoting respect for both women and men in mixed clubs, women have had to simply leave and play tit-for-tat is completely absurd. It’s also about as fruitful as putting an Elastoplast on a splinter. It covers the issue and offers a short term solution, but the problem remains rooted until someone pulls it onto the surface, or it rears its own head slowly and awkwardly. Golf needn’t be an infected foot. We just need to get our tweezers out.
“Women and men’s bodies are built so differently, they play golf differently, if anything it’d be unfair for women to have to play such powerful men in tournaments and general play! Those poor women.”
If you don’t want to take my word on the above being utter bullshit, then why not take a look at your website – it provides an excellent solution to your woes:
“Golf is one of only a few sports which is not played on a standardised playing surface; one of few sports where a 59-year-old can continue to compete on an equal footing with players less than half their age; and, thanks to a handicapping system, one of few sports where players of varying abilities can compete evenly against each other.”
And finally, the grand finale:
“Why are you worrying about such a trivial form of discrimination when there is much worse inequality taking place all over the world? Get your priorities sorted gurrrl.”
Despite first appearances, I’m not nearly equipped or informed enough to identify quantify or compare inequality – and neither are you. But I, and thousands of others are disgraced by your position on the matter of admitting women as members to all golf clubs. Exclusion of women from premium clubs cultivates a less encouraging atmosphere for women in golf and in sport. It also promotes the kind of mind-set which doubts the integrity of women sport players and allows comments such as "she’s not a looker” to constitute acceptable sports commentary.
I hope my letter has offered you a moment to wipe your worried brow, have a little think, and consider that it might be an idea to update your interpretation of the ‘spirit of golf’. I know change is difficult, and you’ve got quite a lot on you mind what with the Open and stuff, but I look forward to seeing some change over the next year or so.
Kate Pasola, avid crazygolfer.