Hail Anita, Emmeline of the fairways

One small step for a lady, one giant leap for ladies' golf. That is how a radical development at a Surrey establishment is being viewed in bunkers from Land's End to John O'Groats. The modern suffragette movement, otherwise known as the ladies' section of that male bastion, the golf club, finally has its Emmeline Pankhurst. Step forward Anita Olrog.

One small step for a lady, one giant leap for ladies' golf. That is how a radical development at a Surrey establishment is being viewed in bunkers from Land's End to John O'Groats. The modern suffragette movement, otherwise known as the ladies' section of that male bastion, the golf club, finally has its Emmeline Pankhurst. Step forward Anita Olrog.

She has been voted in as the captain of the Foxhills Club and Resort, the first woman to hold such a position in Britain, thus ending 600 years of tradition. "I didn't expect it to happen to me but it's quite an honour," said Mrs Olrog, who will be given her own car-parking space. "I hope other clubs will follow suit."

A member of Foxhills for 15 years and a committee member for four, she will begin her role as captain in 2001. However, Mrs Olrog - her ancestors came from Hanover in Germany and prospered in the sugar industry - anticipates that her elevation as the first lady will cause problems for the gravy-stained old-school-tie brigade.

"Even though I'll be captain, I won't be accepted in some clubs because a lot of the matches are men's fixtures. That could apply even if we are playing at home. I accept that. I wouldn't want to play and put either Foxhills or the other club in an embarrassing position. I'll give somebody else the opportunity of captaining the club and I'll show my face in the bar at the end."

Whereas many clubs merely tolerate ladies and impose severe restrictions on when they can play, Foxhills, despite its emblem of arakish-looking fox in plus-fours,diamond-patterned sweater and bow-tie, is an "equal opportunities" club. It has more than 500 lady members and has been promoting golf weekends exclusively for women, a sort of tally-ho for potential vixens.

"Usually ladies have their own section," said Mrs Olrog, who has a handicap of 23, "but here we have one main committee. What is lovely about it is that there are no restrictions and both sexes can play in all the club's competitions. We have equal rights. I think newer clubs are gradually coming over, especially in the south. At one time it was unthinkable, but ladies now are more independent, they have money and are aware that a lot of business is conducted on the course. That is one of the reasons why they want to play."

She and her husband, John, a founder-member of Foxhills and a former captain (thereby initiating a unique family double), are both retired insurance brokers so they can now concentrate on the business of reducing their handicaps.

Royal blush

Foxhills is the trading name of Windsor Holdings Limited. It is understood in some quarters that Prince Charles liked the company so much he wanted to buy it but was told, in the nicest possible way, that it was not for sale.

It is probably just as well that Windsor Holdings has no connection with the House of Windsor for, although Anita Olrog may be tenuously and distantly related to the Royal Family through the House of Hanover, she is unlikely to be swapping captains' tales with Prince Andrew.

The Duke of York has been nominated as captain of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club for the year 2003. Aside from the fact that the Royal & Ancient, whose clubhouse overlooks the hallowed links of St Andrews, is the governing body of the game, it is also strictly a gentleman's club. No foxy ladies for membership even if they are captains of a club.

It seems a trifle early to announce the nominee for a post that will not be filled for three years. However, the royal appointment of his royal highness coincides with the 250th anniversary of the Royal &Ancient, prompting the past captains to bring forward the announcement in preparation forthe special events that will be held to celebrate the occasion.

Andrew, of course, is beautifully qualified for the role. Not only is he royal but a true patron of the game. With a handicap of seven you can't keep him off a golf course. Furthermore he upholds an honourable tradition, becoming the sixth member of the royal family to captain the Royal & Ancient.

In the years of the Hanoverian kings, nothing was heard of golf in the reigns of the four Georges but Queen Victoria, despite the ban on women at St Andrews, became patron of the Royal & Ancient. Prince Edward, later King Edward VII, was captain in 1863 followed by Prince Leopold, Queen Victoria's youngest son, in 1876, although it is not thought that either of them had much of a handicap to write home about. The last Royal to fulfil the role was the Duke of Kent in 1937.

Andrew joined the Royal &Ancient in 1992 and is at present a member of the Amateur Status Committee. This seems a bit rich considering that earlier this year it was announced he was planning to open a nine-hole corporate event golf course at Windsor Castle, employing Nick Faldo as a consultant.

There is nothing new about golf in England's biggest castle - Henry Cotton designed a few holes there donkeys' years ago and the Royal Household run a little society to play matches against Sandringham and Balmoral - but turning it into a corporate business could well become a matter for well, the AmateurStatus Committee.

According to reports, the Duke of York took up the Royal & Ancient game with a vengeance during his career with the Royal Navy (hitting practice shots into the Atlantic is not a problem, although it wouldn't have been tolerated in Nelson's day).

When asked what career he'd like to pursue after serving Queen and country in the Senior Service, Prince Andrew replied: "Golf." If the game became his profession, there could be a moral conflict with the rules on amateur status and that would not sit well with the captain of the world's greatest club. And we are not talking Foxhills.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz