One of the leading trade magazines in the golf industry has labelled the Irish Supreme Court’s decision to allow Portmarnock Golf Club to continue to refuse membership to women as “incongruous, indefensible (and) degrading for women”. It also believes the decision “brings the sport of golf into disrepute”.
The strong words were issued by the publisher of Golf Management Europe magazine, Michael Lenihan, in the leading article in the November edition.
Lenihan, who has been behind the magazine since its launch 12 years ago, said: “This ridiculous decision, which is based on the premise that the club’s ‘principal purpose is to cater only for the needs of persons of a particular gender’ merely allows some clubs to remain in the Dark Ages.
“There is no room for this, or any other form of discrimination in sport in the 21st century. For the Irish Supreme Court to uphold the original High Court judgment based on the presumption that men have more of an innate need to play golf than women is quite simply laughable.
“How would we react if the same policy was applied to the colour of a person’s skin?”
Lenihan’s comment in the magazine states: “In the 21st century – for that is where most golf clubs find themselves these days – such a policy is incongruous, indefensible, degrading for women and brings the sport of golf into disrepute. And for the highest court in any land to uphold it is reprehensible.”
The Suffolk-based magazine, which is delivered to thousands of golf clubs across Europe, encourages the Golfing Union of Ireland to rescind Portmarnock’s affiliation. It continues: “If Portmarnock’s membership of the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) was placed in jeopardy, the club might consider changing its policy once it realised the ramifications of lost revenue.
“It would be a brave decision by the GUI – and golf is not renowned for possessing administrators who are prepared to stick out their necks. But it is an opportunity for one golfing nation to take a lead on all the others; a chance to ensure a legacy and not just an extension of the status quo.”
However, the magazine’s owner does not expect such a policy to be applied. “Quite frankly,” added Lenihan, “golf’s administrators would much rather ride out this storm and prepare themselves to do the same in a few years’ time than actually make a stance and affect a change for the better.
“Golf is all about protecting the status quo, which is a shame when you consider how many people out there are trying to change non-golfers’ perception of the sport.”
Golf Management Europe www.portman.uk.com