Columnist: Muirfield, equality and 219 who said no

The historic club voted 'no' to having women members. Pic by Ian Rutherford.
The historic club voted 'no' to having women members. Pic by Ian Rutherford.

Were the members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers having a laugh in more ways than one last week?

Their cringe-inducing decision not to allow women to join sparked instant criticism.

Muirfield, home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, recently voted to retain a ban on women members.
Picture: Ian Rutherford

Muirfield, home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, recently voted to retain a ban on women members. Picture: Ian Rutherford

But they knew that’d happen – so is that why, on the day the media descended to hear the result of the ballot, their members were out on the course wearing tweed, plus fours and even a pair of brown brogues?

Or is that how they dress everyday?

Was someone, somewhere, was raising a subtle two fingers to the rest of the world?

Nothing so vulgar as a V-sign of course, just a gentle reminder the club will go its own way, even if that is back a century.

Global condemnation? Pour another G&T and draw the blinds – there’s a good chap, the outside world is giving us a spiffing headache.

While the headlines slaughtered the Muirfield members for their decision, the actual vote was interesting – 64 per cent were in favour, but that failed to meet the required two-thirds majority.

That still meant some 219 ‘honourable members’ thought admitting women was just beyond the pale.

Those 219, seven-iron wielding titans of the fairways deserve every bit of vitriol that has poured down on their beautifully preserved clubhouse.

The impact of their obstinance and stupidity goes far beyond the members’ bar.

It re-inforces the image of golf as a sport for crusty old bores – wiping out years of hard work by so many to open the doors to our greatest clubs.

It sends out an appalling message to women, including their own wives and daughters, that, in this sport, they are second class citizens and should know their place.

It shows just how out of touch they are with the most basic of human values – equality.

They are selfish.

Muirfield had a golden opportunity to embrace the modern world and send out a very clear, positive message that golf is for everyone. The 219 who voted ‘no’ blew that one, big time.

And their selfishness will be felt right across East Lothian after the R&A immediately withdrew Muirfield’s right to host The Open – and when the R&A start spluttering into their afternoon tea then you surely must realise you got it badly wrong.

The 219 members put their interests ahead of every single business in East Lothian. They denied the wonderful restaurants and bars vital business, ensured hotels and B&B owners would not share the bounty an Open brings, and left every taxi driver, newsagent and local shop adding up how much they will lose. Take a bow chaps – jolly well played.

Equality - it’s really not such a hard concept to grasp.