Sexual discrimination: The grouchy clubs

In the US, Augusta National has relaxed its famously sexist rules by a smidgen. Some establishments here have yet to even do that, an irate Harriet Walker reports

News just in from the 18th century: women admitted into fusty crap club. Actually, that happened only yesterday, when former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore were granted membership of the notoriously exclusive Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. It was one small step for man, one giant leap for womankind.

Or was it? The stipulations required to join the club – beyond simply having a penis – are vague at best, and these two fragrant additions to the green-jacketed stiffs are exceptions to the antediluvian rule rather than the dawning of a new era.

The Augusta National has not re-considered its "no women" policy so much as extended hospitality to two individuals of the female persuasion that it feels are most like men. You don't apply for membership there – you're invited by the existing members, and while the exact fees are not known, they're rumoured to in the region of five figures.

It just so happens that members haven't much fancied having a woman about the place until now and that most people in possession of that much money are – you guessed it – men.

"This is a new and positive time in our club's history," its chairman Billy Payne said this week. "I wanted to take the opportunity to welcome them… into the Augusta National family." Well, excuse me, Bill, but a family without a woman in it sounds like a family that might one day die out.

One of Britain's last outposts of arcane sexism, the Marylebone Cricket Club – owners of Lord's – extended a welcome to women in 1998 – thoughtful of them, seeing as, under the previous rules, even its patron The Queen wouldn't have been allowed into the Long Room bar for cigars and whiff-whiff.

But the practice abides in many private establishments – snooty clubs such as White's (where members once bet £3,000 on which raindrop would reach the windowsill first), the Garrick and Boodle's continue to bar their doors to women. Are they worried we'll make a mess on the carpet? Or that our harpyish shrieks will echo through their joyless halls, as we cavort like trollops at the bingo?

When Magdalene College, Cambridge, first admitted women in 1988, male students wore black armbands in protest, flew the flag at half-mast and carried a coffin through the quad. They're even more hysterical than we are, these blokes. Those cheeky bastions would do well to take a leaf out of the New Cavendish Club's book. Originally established for women in 1920, it accepted male members in 1959 in a forward-thinking spirit of inclusivity.

But clubs such as Pratt's and Savage seem intent on living up to their names. And the Flyfishers Club, too, although that's a moot point, given that no women would want to join anyway.

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
newsFloyd 'Creeky' Creekmore still performed regularly to raise money for local hospitals
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?