UK Minister weighs in on women

Hugh Robertson
Getty Images
UK Minister of Sport Hugh Robertson weighed in on the public-private debate regarding women members in the R&A and clubs that host major championships.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Monday, November 12, 2012 | 3:16 p.m.


In a country that has a minister of everything, it’s no surprise that the UK Minister of Sport – yes, they have a Sports Czar in Jolly Ole England – has weighed in on the private/public debate when it comes to golf and major championships.  

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Minister Hugh Robertson said, “It is increasingly anachronistic not to allow women to be members. The defence (SIC) of the Royal and Ancient is that it is a private club and so has the right to do what it wants. That is legally correct and I have no quarrel when it is acting as a private club. However, I believe that when a private club fulfills a public function, such as staging a major event, then there is a different slant…I think this issue should be addressed. Let's get on with providing equality of opportunity across all sports.”  

Not only is the R&A a male-only club, the host course for the Open next year, Muirfield, is famously men-only. And while pressure might force the R&A to act, no amount of political bluster will budge the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.  

“It's not our decision where the Open is,” Muirfield secretary Alastair Brown told Press Association Sport on Monday after the Times story ran. “It's the decision of the R&A. It's their competition and they ask us. Augusta (National) is a totally different situation. They own their event (the Masters). We are fully compliant with the Equality Act. Women have played here since 1891. I've given this reply several times and that is our stance.”  

He didn’t have to say, “Don’t ask again.”