• Open Championship

R&A chief admits concerns for men-only clubs

ESPN staff
July 17, 2013
R&A chief executive Peter Dawson with the Claret Jug © Getty Images

The chief executive of the R&A, Peter Dawson, has admitted the issue of men-only policies at golf clubs is becoming "increasingly difficult".

The host club of this week's Open Championship, Muirfield, does not allow women to join.

And Dawson said: "Obviously the whole issue of gender and single-sex clubs has been pretty much beaten to death recently.

"We do, I assure you, understand this is a divisive issue. It's a subject we're finding increasingly difficult, to be honest."

He added: "In recent months we've been at great pains to try to explain some of the facts about this matter. Single-sex clubs are in a very small minority in the UK. Half of them are women only, half of them are men only. They're perfectly legal."

Open venues Royal St Georges and Troon also bar women members, but in 2012 Augusta National, hosts of the Master, allowed women to join for the first time in its 80-year history.

  • The Open Championship will tee-off on July 18 and ESPN will have all the news, views and features from Muirfield - along with an in-depth GolfCast from all four rounds.

Asked what was the difference between a male-only club and one that allowed whites only, Dawson said: "There's a massive difference between racial discrimination, anti-Semitism, where sectors of society are downtrodden and treated very badly."

Rory McIlroy was also asked on the subject by the press.

"I just don't think it's something that is a real issue anymore," the world No. 2 said.

"Obviously it's an issue in some golf clubs. But in terms of life in general, I think men and women are treated equally for the most part these days. And that's the way it should be."

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