ColumnistsVogue Williams

Vogue: Gender equality must now become par for the course

Vogue WilliamsBy Vogue Williams
Vogue Williams eats two pizzas on her cheat day
Vogue Williams eats two pizzas on her cheat day

I have spent a lot of time writing about equality for the LGBT community, of which I am a big supporter and ally.

So I was disgusted to read of the situation that is going on at one of Scotland’s most famous golf courses, Muirfield. 

It has been a ‘men only’ golf course for years and after a recent vote it decided to stay that way. 

I am opposed to any sort of gender discrimination and the decision made by Muirfield recently is archaic. 

As Muirfield is a private members club, they do not have to adhere to the Equality Act 2010 – even though they will allow women to play the course as a visitor as long as they are brought along by one of their male members.

I don’t think this row is purely to do with misogyny, it probably has less to do with sexism than it has to do with elitism and old men’s reluctance to embrace change. 

The average age of Muirfield’s members is almost certainly more than 60 years old and its membership is made up  of white, middle-class men from the Scottish and English establishment. 

First and foremost, a private club will ask if your father or even grandfather was a member.

This is the best way to gain entry to the waiting list for membership, and, even then, it will take between six and 10 years before an applicant is accepted. If your father was not a member then the questions asked will be of the traditional flavour. What do you do? Are you a QC, or a judge, are you a senior banker? Where did you go to school or university? 

These questions are designed to test if an applicant is ‘one of us’ and not some uppity-type who would be likely to want to change the age-old traditions of the club. 

This is the approach of all elitist clubs - it is not sexist and is not anti-women. It is anti-everyone who is not one of them.

The elderly members are people who have been born with silver spoons in their mouths. 

They have probably been very successful in their own right and at this point in their lives they are not going to be dictated to by a bunch of headline-seeking journalists and social agitators. 

Those who voted against the motion to change the club rules were not just voting against female members, but against the argument that they should do what the majority want and open their doors to one and all. 

This was always a difficult hurdle to overcome.

We all practise elitism to some extent or another and it is part and parcel of all of our own aspirations, whether it be for ourselves or for our children.

I don’t have children, but everyone wants their children to get ahead of the rest. 

This is elitism and we are all guilty of it to a greater or lesser extent, myself included.

Muirfield is a private club and it is of no concern to rational people what they do and the only issue of any relevance is whether a major golf tournament such as The Open should be played there.

It is perfectly reasonable that the public should say no to this, but it is for the members of Muirfield to decide if they want to continue as they are and forfeit the hosting of The Open or change their membership rules.

Many of my family are members of private, men-only golf courses and I can assure you that none of them are in any way sexist – so I can’t put the whole Muirfield situation down to that.

After the vote at Muirfield the club was removed from the Open rota which I believe is a step in the right direction. 

It is believed that after the recent backlash the club has received, the committee will be sitting down later this month to discuss the matter and maybe they will make a different decision this time around.

I believe that anyone should have the opportunity to be a member. 

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club and Royal St George’s have recently made the right decision and brought its membership policies in line with gender equality in the 21st century. It is not just clubs that don’t accept female members that I have a problem with, I also have an issue with female only clubs too, although I should point out that none of the women only courses are championship ones.

Any type of gender inequality is wrong. Golf is a sport that is meant to be enjoyed by all so should be fully inclusive, although I don’t believe that this issue is solely down to the gender of its members. 

Rory McIlroy (above) has recently revealed that he is in talks with the prestigious Portmarnock Golf Club in Dublin to change their men-only policy. 

Portmarnock is ranked number 25 on Golf Digest 100 top golf courses yet they still do not allow women members. 

Although there has not been a vote in Portmarnock yet, I am quite sure it will be one of the clubs that will change its policy.