Women Need Not Apply at RA

By Associated PressMarch 21, 2003, 5:00 pm
LONDON -- Vivien Saunders would love to become the first woman member of the Royal & Ancient golf club. She knows it's not going to happen.
 
``No, it would just be so hopeless,'' the former women's British Open champion said. ``No one would ever bother. You'd never get a man to propose and second you. And then another 20 people have to be supporters.''
 
The R&A, a private club of 2,400 male members based in St. Andrews, Scotland, is the world governing body of golf outside the United States and Mexico.
 
Founded in 1754, it has never had a female member.
 
The R&A is a bastion of tradition, located at the `home of golf.' Members watch the action on the first tee and 18th green of the `Old Course'' links while sipping gin and tonics from their leather chairs in the clubhouse.
 
While Augusta National Golf Club's all-male membership has sparked widespread debate in the United States and led to threatened protests at the Masters, the R&A wonders what all the fuss is about.
 
``It's hardly life-threatening, is it?'' R&A secretary Peter Dawson said in an interview. ``It is a game, after all. People play it and have fun. Men's and women's golf coexists extremely well.''
 
Saunders doesn't buy that logic, accusing the R&A of being an ``old boys club.''
 
``Well, if it's not life-threatening, then why not let us in?'' she said. ``There's nothing in the rules that says you can't have a camel carrying your clubs when you go out and play, but it wouldn't be very welcome.''
 
Saunders, who won the 1977 women's British Open, called the organization ``undemocratic, elitist, discriminatory and secretive.''
 
``The R&A purports to govern women's golf without allowing women to belong to it,'' she said.
 
As golf's governing body, the R&A doesn't receive any funding from the British government. Its committee structure and membership are secret, and the only way to join is by invitation. Candidates must be proposed and seconded by existing members.
 
Dawson doesn't have much sympathy for Martha Burk, the head of the National Council of Women's Organizations who has waged a high-profile campaign against Augusta's all-male membership. Burk is fighting to lead a protest outside the club during the Masters, which starts April 10.
 
``I am not going to comment on the situation at Augusta National, that is entirely a matter for them,'' Dawson said. ``But members of clubs do have the right to associate freely. I understand there is nothing against the law about that and I as I see it, there's nothing wrong with it.''
 
Dawson said he's received only two letters on the membership issue in his four years in the job.
 
``There is actually no particular pressure,'' he said. ``This is not to be complacent, but there's no particular pressure from inside of golf about this, but the media clearly have it on their agenda.''
 
Dawson says 99 percent of the 3,000 golf clubs in Britain have male and female members.
 
``Equally, we don't have a problem if people want to exercise their right of association and just have single-sex clubs,'' he said. ``We don't see why all clubs have to be the same.''
 
Glenda Jackson, the actress and member of Parliament, called the R&A's membership policy ``gender apartheid.''
 
``It's pathetic isn't it?'' the two-time Academy Award winner said in an interview. ``I think they're very misguided. It's taken a long time to achieve equality in other areas, I have no doubt that equality will one day be achieved in this area.''
 
Changing the status quo won't be easy.
 
In early March, Oxford University's only all-female college, St. Hilda's, voted to keep men out -- by one vote. Various court cases in Britain have both upheld and disagreed with the requirement of a man to wear a tie to work.
 
On Feb. 3, Labor Party parliamentarian Parmjit Dhanda introduced a bill proposing to outlaw sexual discrimination in private clubs with more than 25 members. That would include the R&A.
 
``There is a loophole for clubs to be able to discriminate against women,'' Dhanda told the House of Commons. ``It is ridiculous that this still goes on.''
 
But Dhanda's bill -- backed by the government -- failed to pass, blocked by two opposition Conservative Party legislators. Dhanda said he hoped the proposed bill could be revived and reintroduced.
 
``There can be no justification for treating women as second-class citizens,'' Minister for Women Patricia Hewitt said. ``Such practices are out of date.''
 
Seven years ago, Judy Bell had a chance to be the first female member of the R&A when she was elected as the first female president of the U.S. Golf Association.
 
Unlike previous USGA presidents, she wasn't invited to become a member. Bell, who served for two years, said she felt no strong desire to join the R&A.
 
``How can you say women would be better off if I had been a member of the R&A?'' she said in a recent interview with The Times of London. ``What's it going to benefit? Matter of fact, if I joined tomorrow, I can't imagine I would be as effective as when I worked with the R&A as president of the USGA.''
 
Dawson said that the three all-male clubs will continue to host the British Open. Of the nine clubs that stage the British Open, three are public courses, three are mixed and three are men-only clubs.
 
Last year, the British Open was held at Muirfield, Scotland. This year, it's at Royal St. George in Sandwich, southern England. Both are all-male clubs.
 
``We don't see the Open championship being used for social engineering. We don't see that as valid,'' Dawson said. ``We have no problem with women-only clubs, or men-only clubs or mixed clubs. Therefore, we don't actually think there's a problem in that sense.''
 
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.