Dominic Heslop: Muirfield’s decision is bigoted and sexist

Muirfield Golf Club. Picture: Jon Savage
Muirfield Golf Club. Picture: Jon Savage
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Dominic Heslop wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that took a bigoted, sexist and outdated decision to exclude women.

The announcement to deny women the opportunity to become members of Muirfield Golf Club in East Lothian flies in the face of common sense. It is a bigoted, sexist and outdated concept that men and women can’t enjoy each other’s company in a club setting!

Scotland has great golf courses across the land. So often they come with outstanding club houses, like Muirfield. Even if you are not a fan of the sport one will appreciate the environment which they occupy.

I’ve spent many a lunchtime at the Royal Burgess at Barnton which has sensational views of the City.

I’ve also had great times at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews. Going there has always been a special occasion as the town was where I spent my formative years as a student. The club has spectacular views across the Old Course towards the West Sands where Chariots of Fire was shot. Similarly, the New Club, although not a golf club, on Princes Street in Edinburgh has spectacular views to the Castle.

The difference with these three clubs is that they now admit women. Not only that but they no longer relegate females to being part-time associate members where they are subjected to patronising “Laura Ashley” furnishings and are expected to have a dry sherry at the most.

Same-sex clubs are discriminatory, whether male or female, but I have to say being in an environment of boring old men talking to themselves is far from good company.

Whether you don’t like in principle the idea of Private Members’ Clubs, this is no different from paying a subscription to a gym, but men and women should be equal when membership is decided.

I’m a member of the Scottish Arts Club, a progressive entity which has had female members for over 35 years. That’s perhaps not too long for a club which was established in 1872. But at least this club saw the way forward in terms of women members.

This is a club where you can have a bite to eat, read the papers without distraction or enjoy many of the activities on offer. This would be diminished if women were to be excluded.

It used to be said that all-male clubs were there so blokes could tell risqué jokes. The last time I heard a dirty joke was from, what was once termed, the fairer sex!

Dominic Heslop is Conservative councillor for Pentland Hills Ward