Legislation granting women equality on the golf course has “buggered up” the game because female players cannot afford the fees, the commentator Peter Alliss has claimed.
The BBC’s voice of golf claimed that thousands of women have given up playing as a result of Harriet Harman’s Equality Act, which ended men-only tee times and restrictions on the club facilities which female players could use.
Alliss, 84, told Radio Times: “I’m told the Ladies’ Golf Union (LGU) has lost 150,000 members since equality for women came in. Hundreds of women have left golf clubs because they’ve gone from paying half fare to full fare. It’s caused mayhem.”
“All of the wives of members at these clubs could have used the facilities for free. When I was at Muirfield a couple of years ago talking to a few of the lady members, I said, ‘What about this equality? You must be happy about that?’ ‘God no,’ they said. ‘We can come here and do what we like, we can play golf and don’t pay anything.’”
The commentator added: “The equality thing is a great part of golf. Equality for women: a few people battled away to get it, they got it, and they have buggered up the game for a lot of people.”
Golf clubs were required to comply with the 2010 Act, which gave women more rights in work places and social settings. Clubs abandoned men-only bars and playing days but were required to offer women the same unrestricted membership terms as men, ending ladies’ discounts.
Golf hotels: In pictures
Golf hotels: In pictures
1/6 The Manor Inn, North Carolina
The Manor Inn, North Carolina
Built in 1923, The Manor Inn sits pretty within one of America's most revered courses: Pinehurst. The North Carolina resort dates back to 1895 and its world famous No 2 course hosted the US Open in June this year. The Inn has 42 guest rooms and suites, and visitors can enjoy access to the numerous restaurants, spa and fitness centre, as well as its nine golf courses.
The Manor Inn, North Carolina (001 855 235 8507; pinehurst.com). Doubles $392pp (£239), or $251 (£153) from 3 November. Rate includes breakfast and one round of golf.
2/6 Bovey Castle, Devon
Bovey Castle, Devon
Bovey Castle's championship golf course was recently named among the world's top five (top100golfcourses.co.uk). It was designed in 1926 by J F Abercromby and opened in 1930 to rival sister courses at Gleneagles and Turnberry. There is a fully-equipped clubhouse, driving range, golf academy and bistro for pre- and post-match use. And guests can stay in one of the 64 individually-designed bedrooms in the original manor house.
Bovey Castle, Devon (01647 445000; boveycastle.com). Doubles from £215, room only.
3/6 Heritage Awali Golf & Spa, Mauritius
Heritage Awali Golf & Spa, Mauritius
Combine golf with glorious views at this Mauritian resort set within a former sugar plantation. The Heritage Golf Club has one of the region's most beautiful courses; golfers can admire panoramic views of crystal-clear lagoons and rugged mountains as they make their way around the 18 holes. There is also kite-surfing, mountain biking, swimming and archery on offer for those who like to get their adrenalin pumping in between rounds.
. Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort, Mauritius (00 230 266 9768; heritageresorts.mu). Doubles from £369, B&B.
4/6 Royal Westmoreland, Barbados
Royal Westmoreland, Barbados
Golfing doesn't get much better than Royal Westmoreland's world-class championship course – a 7,045-yard, par 72 with ocean views from every hole. Even the most skilled golfers will find it a challenge to navigate the tropical landscape. And if you can't bear to be parted from the course, the three-bedroom Royal Villa has landscaped gardens overlooking it. Other facilities include tennis courts, a pool and gym, and the Spa at Mullins Beach, which is a short drive away.
Royal Westmoreland, Barbados (001 246 422 4653; royalwestmoreland.com). Doubles from £245, room only.
5/6 Clingendael, Sri Lanka
Clingendael, Sri Lanka
With the dramatic Knuckles Mountain Range as a backdrop, Clingendael's par-73 Victoria Golf Course has been named one of the world's 100 most scenic courses by Golf Digest USA. The boutique-style hotel has been carefully furnished with reclaimed Dutch antiques, and it is surrounded by plush lawns and vibrant bougainvillea, all within a beautiful hillside setting that's close to the colonial sights of Kandy, Sri Lanka's elegant second city.
Clingendael, Sri Lanka (00 941 77 251 5457; theclingendael.com). Doubles from £322, B&B.
6/6 The Gleneagles Hotel Perthshire, Scotland
The Gleneagles Hotel Perthshire, Scotland
This exclusive resort, set in 850 acres of stunning scenery in Perthshire, celebrated its 90th anniversary in June. There are three championship golf courses, so it comes as no surprise that it was chosen to host the 2014 Ryder Cup this weekend. There are 232 rooms and suites, each individually designed, including several family rooms. Non-golfers can amuse themselves with various activities including shooting, fishing, falconry, off-road driving and horse-riding, as well as swimming in the expansive health club's two indoor pools.
The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire (0800 389 3737; gleneagles.com). Doubles from £245, B&B.
The LGU said Mr Alliss’ statistics were incorrect – membership has dropped 30,000 from 189,000 in 2010 to 159,000 in 2014. Sam Burton, LGU finance director, said: “I had a nice conversation with Peter last week but we couldn’t agree. Our membership has fallen but I think that’s more because golf is time-consuming and more women are out working not because of equality.”
Ms Burton added: “I wouldn’t dream of joining a club where I did not have the same rights as a man. Clubs are making golf more appealing to women and men alike with 5-day subscriptions. Some older women didn’t want to pay full subscriptions.”
Alison Root, editor of Women & Golf magazine, said some women were paying higher fees but equality was a necessary change. “Overall the changes have been for the benefit of the game, regardless of the fees,” Ms Root said. “The impact has been to encourage more women and girls to play the game every week. Whether women like it or not, they’ve got to accept it.”
St Andrews and Royal St George’s, the Open Championship courses, both recently voted to admit women members for the first time, after what Mr Alliss called “a hell of a row”, while Troon and Muirfield are also reviewing their membership policy.
Equality for women is now being felt at an institutional level, Ms Root added. “The R&A is in talks with the LGU over a merger and the Scottish Golf Union and the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association are also merging,” she said. “These changes are good for the game.” However change has not entirely filtered down - her own club still operated some reserved “ladies and mens” tee times, Ms Root said.
Augusta National, Georgia, which this week stages the Masters Tournament, the first of the year's four majors, admitted women members in 2012.
Mr Alliss, who said he had been told to “stay as long as you like” in the commentary box by the BBC, admitted he was sad to see live rights to the Open Championship snapped up by Sky from 2017 in a £15m deal. “I don’t think there were enough people at the BBC dealing with the negotiations who cared enough,” Alliss said. “I can think of a couple of heads of sport from years ago who would have battled harder. But, having said that, when people get used to it I think the highlights will be wonderfully supported.”
As Phil Mickelson nailed a birdie putt to win his first Masters in 2004, Alliss said: “It’s not over yet.”
Apologised after camera closed in on disabled spectator watching the Open at St Andrews in 2010 prompting Alliss to say: “...unless you end up like that.”
Unaware he was broadcasting live at Wentworth: “This is a load of bollocks”.
Called row over Sergio Garcia’s jibe that he would serve fried chicken to Tiger Woods for dinner “exaggerated stories of racism.”
When a shot of his wife Jackie came on screen he described her as “a rottweiler with lip gloss.”
“The return of the Tiger, he was up and down, in and out, as usual."
“Wentworth Golf Course is in remarkable condition after the wettest drought in history.”Reuse content