Comment: Muirfield vote offers glimpse of an old Scotland

Media gather at Muirfield Golf Club for the announcement. Picture: Jon Savage
Media gather at Muirfield Golf Club for the announcement. Picture: Jon Savage
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THE reaction of most people to the events at Muirfield will be simple bewilderment.

Why on earth is anyone in 2016 debating whether or not to put women and men on an equal footing? That this debate is taking place at all is hard to understand for the vast majority of people outside the confines of the old clubhouse.

The fact that it is happening at one of our great, or once great, sporting institutions – and that the reactionaries have won the day – is just sad. It would be comic if the consequences were not so serious.

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The truth of the matter is that the world will move on without Muirfield and the so-called Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. That was shown in dramatic fashion when the club was told immediately it announced its decision that it would never hold the Open Championship again unless it changes its policy.

Yesterday offered a glimpse of an old Scotland that has not been on show so much in recent years and which many of us hoped had been consigned to history. What a contrast to the modern, confident country that we have portrayed to the world so strongly during the independence referendum and since then with strong female leaders in our parliament and other walks of life.

This episode will surely not damage the international image of Scotland, Edinburgh or East Lothian in the long run. It is so out of step with what is going on elsewhere in the country. What will undoubtedly suffer is the club whose reputation is being dragged through the mud and which will now struggle to attract and retain younger, forward-thinking members. That may suit some of its existing members, but in the long tun it cannot be a good thing.

The other concern is the lost opportunity for the East Lothian economy to host again in the future one of the world’s great sporting events. It is sad for the Lothians and embarrassing.