Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Muirfield – not so Open

It is with some astonishment in this day and age that the hosts of this year’s Open golf championship is a ‘men-only’ club. Muirfield is one of three courses hosting the British Open that has a ‘no women’ membership policy. The other courses are Troon and Royal St George’s. Last year the home of the Masters, Augusta National, accepted that it was time to change and invited two eminent females to become their first women members. 

The existence of men-only sports clubs is odd and an anachronism. That the club are awarded the prestige and economic benefits of hosting the Open with this policy is indefensible. The honour of hosting the Open is not only prestigious, it is also lucrative. A round of golf on an ‘Open’ course can cost £250 for a non-member. Interestingly, the Royal and Ancient (crazy name, crazy guys) who organise and arrange the Open, are themselves a men-only club, so it is less surprising they select similar organisations.. 

There are those who regard these institutions as ‘dinosaurs’ and predict that, like the dinosaurs, they will become extinct. Unfortunately for such believers, the dinosaurs were around for over 300 million years. 

An event like the Open attracts world-wide media coverage. Why are the media colluding with these Bufton-Tuftons? The merest threat of a news blackout would institute a rapid change of attitude. The symbiotic relationship between the media, sponsors and the public is powerful. Sponsors like the coverage and the association of their brand in a positive event. They do not like to be linked with negative events and coverage. Adidas have swiftly moved to drop top sprinter Tyson Gay from their sponsorship following his positive drug test.

South Korean energy giants Doosan, MasterCard, Mercedes Benz, Nikon, NTT Data, Ralph Lauren and Rolex are all listed as patrons/sponsors of the event this year. As are HSBC, who need bad publicity like an extra swollen testicle. All of these companies employ women, sell to women and rely on women. As do the media.

Time for the daughters (and sons) of Emily Davison to get their act together.

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