Scotland to Vote on Independence and Women Allowed on the Historical Golf Courses
Sep18

Scotland to Vote on Independence and Women Allowed on the Historical Golf Courses

“A September 18 referendum will determine whether Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom or becomes independent for the first time in 307 years. Another Vote: Can Women Join Scotland’s Royal & Ancient Golf Club? GLASGOW, Scotland — The referendum on independence isn’t the only historic vote taking place in Scotland on Thursday. While around four million Scots are choosing whether to go it alone or to stay with the United Kingdom, about 2,500 male members of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews will decide another issue that has split opinion across the land: whether women should be allowed to join one of the world’s oldest and most famous golf clubs. The all-male Royal & Ancient Golf Club, a regular British Open venue, has for years resisted attempts to admit female members at the famous “Old Course.” But on Thursday, as most Scots are lining up to their cast their referendum ballots, the club is expected to pass a motion allowing women to join its ranks. Like the one to the independence referendum, the road to Thursday’s decision has been a long one. The Royal & Ancient, established in 1754, has a fusty image and a reputation for sexism. In recent years, sponsors and politicians have expressed reservations about international championships being held at exclusive clubs. Two years ago, the famous Augusta National Golf Club changed its stance on single-sex membership. Leading female golfers have long called for the all-male policy to be overturned. Earlier this year, Louise Richardson, principal of the University of St. Andrews, spoke out about the ban on women after she was denied honorary membership at the club, an honor given to her male predecessor. Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has previously called on the Royal & Ancient to admit female members. Last year the Scottish National Party leader turned down an invitation to attend the British Open at Muirfield, another Scottish club that does not allow women as members. “Can you imagine how mortifying it would be if they voted to uphold the ban? It could be catastrophic for the sport, in a PR sense and in a commercial sense” Last summer’s Open was marred by heated debate about the club’s male-only policy. Peter Dawson, the Royal & Ancient chief executive, said at the time that the policy was “not on any kind of par with racial discrimination or antisemitism or any of these things.” That belief aside, Dawson has been increasingly aware of the potential commercial impact of continuing to prohibit women from becoming members. In January, Giles Morgan, global head of sponsorship at HSBC, said that the all-male policy would have significant...

Read More