Irish Supreme Court upholds men-only golf club
In a split 3-2 judgment, Ireland’s top court ruled that Portmarnock Golf Club was not violating Ireland’s Equal Status Act, because that 2000 anti-discrimination law permits exceptions for exclusively male and female clubs.
The seaside club northeast of Dublin successfully appealed a 2004 Dublin District Court judgment that found Portmarnock in breach of the law – and threatened to withdraw its bar license if it didn’t give women equal access to the clubhouse.
The Equality Authority of Ireland pursued the case on behalf of the National Women’s Council of Ireland. It filed a 2002 complaint following similar protests against the men-only membership of the Augusta National Golf Club in the U.S. state of Georgia.
But in their majority judgment, the three Irish Supreme Court judges – among them one woman – noted that Ireland’s law permits clubs to restrict membership to one sex, if that club’s “principal purpose is to cater only for the needs of persons of a particular gender.” Those needs included Portmarnock’s central purpose of social fraternization, they ruled.
Lawyers representing the club conceded up front that its membership policy discriminated in favor of men, but the Equal Status Act permitted this exception. They noted that women could play the course as visitors on specific days and hours of the week.
One of the dissenting judges, Susan Denham, said her colleagues gave too little weight to the reality that golf was no more a “need” for men than for women, therefore any golf club barring a particular sex as members was breaking the law.
“Portmarnock Golf Club is exactly what its name says: a golf club in Portmarnock. It caters for men and women in different ways,” she said, arguing that this was the essence of discrimination..
An executive member of the Women’s Council, Therese Murphy, said lawmakers needed to close the loophole. She said golf clubs were venues for power-brokering relationships important to businessmen and women alike.
“A lot more happens in golf clubs than playing golf. It is about networking and camaraderie,” she said.
Irish broadcasters RTE interviewed an unidentified Portmarnock club member who welcomed the verdict. The man said he didn’t want women on the course because they would slow down the speed of play.
Ireland, a country of 4.2 million, has nearly 1,000 golf courses. Portmarnock is among the most exclusive with about 1,300 members and visitors’ fees for an 18-hole round set at ?120 to ?200 ($180 to $300).
The wind-swept links course, founded in 1894, is bounded on three sides by water. Its only permitted female member is President Mary McAleese, Ireland’s symbolic head of state.
In Georgia, Augusta also continues to bar women. The National Council of Women’s Organizations, which criticized the golf club’s men-only membership in 2002, didn’t file a lawsuit.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.