Leading article: The sport of the small-minded

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The Independent Online
At Golf courses across Britain this weekend, everyone will be trying to emulate Tiger Woods. Young or old, thin or fat, every player will be winning the US Masters and hitting the ball further than anyone else. In bars and locker rooms, Woods's stunning victory in last weekend's top competition will dominate conversation.

Woods will be applauded and hailed as a role model for our young blacks. But the people whose applause is loudest will ensure that few young blacks ever have a chance to emulate his easy manners and expensively casual appearance. Black icons will remain those whose sports can be played on the street: Linford Christie, Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright.

Golf, like many other sports in this country - tennis, yachting, show- jumping spring to mind - is dominated by exclusive clubs run by small- minded men (and a few women) whose main preoccupation is to keep their sport exclusive.

Try to join a golf club, certainly one near a city, where demand is greatest, and you will be told to come back when you can play. But how do you learn to play when there are few public courses and nowhere to learn? And, even if you manage to reach a reasonable standard, you will probably not be invited to join. Most clubs require two recommendations and have long waiting-lists.

Then there is the cost. An average club in the South costs pounds 500 to join and pounds 500 a year, and not much less in the North. America may now be swept by a generation of young Tigers. In this country we think we would like our own Tigers. But we are not prepared to change anything that would make it happen.