Men and Women

Jun 08 2018

Thought for the Day
Better to stay quiet and let people believe you’re an idiot than open your mouth and confirm it

With Donald Trump cancelling his sit down with Kim Jung-un, the NHS in financial freefall and ‘Phew! What a Scorcher!’ headlines everywhere, one snippet of news that might have slipped past you unnoticed in the last week is that Chelsea Ladies Football Club has changed its name. Henceforth it will be called Chelsea FC Women.

So what? You might think. I’m a golfer and don’t even like football. The relevance, I suggest, is the valid reason why the club has changed its name, which is pertinent to golfers and the clubs of which they are members.

Simply, Chelsea FC decided that ‘Ladies’ is old-fashioned. Put several other ways, it is out-of-date, archaic, passé, antiquated, outmoded and any other redundant term you can dredge from the bowels of your Thesaurus. Personally, I prefer the substitutes of traditional, conservative, conventional and fogeyish and that’s where the connection with golf comes in (you were beginning to wonder, weren’t you?)

Golf clubs cling to the term ‘Ladies’ despite it being so far past it’s sell-by date that it should be rotting on a shelf somewhere, behind a tin of John West’s Salmon and that fondue set you used once and have not got around to donating to the charity shop. As the Chelsea and England goalkeeper Carly Telford said: ‘When I think of “Ladies” I think of afternoon tea somewhere.

‘You wouldn’t call it “Chelsea Gentlemen” so why would you call it ladies? There are all those connotations of what a lady stands for, as opposed to what a woman stands for.’

Returning to my much-thumbed reference books, I found definitions of ‘Lady’ to include: ‘A woman who is refined, polite and well-spoken.’ ‘A woman of high social position or economic class.’ And my favourite: ‘A woman who is the object of chivalrous devotion.’

These terms may accurately be applied to those of the distaff gender at your club but are hardly accurate descriptions of some of the old slappers at mine (and that is a joke, albeit in poor taste). My point is that when golf started, the only women with the time, means and opportunity to take up the game probably did fit those descriptions, being upper class, wealthy and privileged. But that was 650 years ago and while society and attitudes have changed considerably over six-and-a-half millennia, in many instances, golf has not.

We still see many of the attitudes mercilessly skewered by a Channel 4 documentary series Cutting Edge which was shown 34 years ago. It featured Norwood GC, some of whose members not only reinforced but positively enhanced golf’s reputation as being a haven for pompous, nouveau riche wannabes from middle-management who cling to the belief that membership of a club accords them superior social status. There are still deluded fools in golf clubs throughout the country who mistakenly think that membership bestows upon them some measure of who they are and their status in society and it is this mindset that continues to make golf unattractive to the youngsters we desperately need for the game to not only flourish but merely survive.

There have been numerous reports in recent years that club membership is declining at an alarming rate. Between 2003 and 2014 it fell by 20% in England and 17% in Scotland. The response, you might think, would be for golf to try and make itself more inclusive, welcoming and friendly, with less emphasis on petty regulations such as the length of shorts that can be worn, or an insistence on continuing to call women, Ladies.

For once only, can we hope that golf might follow the example set by football?

Quote of the Week
Golf is a game of ego, but it is also a game of integrity: The most important thing is, you do what is right when no one is looking
Tom Watson

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