It’s been a little bit of time, but I wanted to let the decisions sink in. I am of course talking about the vote undertaken by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers resulting in the decision not to admit female members.
Let me give some context. My first belief is that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. This is a right everyone should have so long as it doesn’t hurt others. That is where it can get tricky, but we will leave that discussion for another day. Second, I wrote my senior thesis in high school on the rights of private clubs to decide their membership policies. This was a thoroughly researched paper, not the three-pager thrown together the night before. It led me to the conclusion that if a club is not getting tax breaks, they can determine their membership how they see fit.
I wrote that paper in 2003 at the height of the Martha Burke-Augusta controversy. I felt then and I feel now that clubs can pick their members. I also felt and feel that those choices come with consequences. I applaud the R&A for refusing to hold the Open Championship at Muirfield. I firmly believe we should be as inclusive as possible for golf’s image. Let’s be honest, new members at Muirfield won’t grow the game among the non-wealthy (for lack of a better term), but it can improve the image of the game. Every decision made should have the goal of making golf more welcoming.
Augusta eventually admitted female members. I hope Muirfield will do the same, but because they want to and realize it is the right decision. I take some solace in the fact that the vote was close to the 2/3 majority needed. That tells me a lot of Muirfield’s membership made the right decision. Hopefully this will be a sour footnote made right by a subsequent vote.
I have always viewed Scotland as an inclusive place for golfers. I will continue to view it that way regardless of one club’s decision. I think the country is egalitarian as it gets and certainly much more than the USA when it comes to golf. Don’t let one club’s vote tarnish your view of Scotland. Let me know what you think!