If Muirfield has been dubbed Jurassic Park, perhaps Cranleigh Golf & Country Club should be renamed Futureworld?
The famous Scottish venue was stripped of its status as an Open Championship venue when it opted to remain a men-only club and they were then the butt of a prank from Irish bookmakers Paddy Power recently, suggesting those attitudes stuck in the past belonged with the dinosaurs.
As a second vote takes place to admit female members, things are a little more progressive down in Surrey.
In January, Heather Kitson became the first club captain in Surrey club’s 32-year history and revealed she has received nothing but overwhelming support from her male counterparts since taking the reins.
Kitson, 64, said:
“We were struggling for a club captain. The previous captain Peter Symonds asked upwards of 25 people who didn’t want to do it, so I offered to do it. I felt the club was stagnating and we had to address the problem of not having a willing captain.''
“But I’ve had very little opposition and indeed I’ve had the most surprising amount of support from the men. The feeling I get is that they are pleased someone is addressing the issues in terms of getting their ideas heard.
“I’m sure there were one or two who may not have been happy about it, but they haven’t made their feelings known to me.
“You hear of some clubs where they can be quite stuck in their ways. That’s not the case here.”
Kitson, a retired teacher originally from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, is a 10-handicapper and can certainly hold her own on the course, playing – and often beating – the men from the yellow tees.
She said: “I play twice a week with the men – I’ve got the game where I can do it – and they are very respectful. We all play off the yellow tees so there is no advantage. I quite often outdrive them but we have talked about playing off the white tees, so it will get interesting then!
“But you have to plot your way around this course. You can’t just bang the ball around out here – although you can if you keep it straight. I joined in 2004 and I’d never played such a difficult course – it’s one of the trickiest I’ve ever played but I love the challenge.''
“Sometimes, it seems like every tree has got a vendetta against you but it’s part of the fun. It’s a fantastic place to play golf. The members are a welcoming bunch and are always happy to welcome new faces to the club.
Kitson, who started playing golf at the age of nine at Castlerock, has lived and worked in Dubai, Bahrain, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Malaysia in her career.
But she remains ambitious about her golf and is determined to bring in some fresh ideas on the future development of the club.
She said: “I just want to inject a bit of enthusiasm. I would like to see a much more equal gender balance in the way the club is governed so we are working on a few ideas to change the way we find our captain each year. But why shouldn’t the club captain be a woman?
“I’d like to think we as a club are leading the way for some others and we have to get away from the attitude of ‘we’ve always done it this way so we can’t change’. I think we are doing that here.
“Our motto for the coming year is ‘Transparency and Equality for all Stakeholders’.
“In this day and age, it should not be about one sex having more power than the other one. Women can do as much for the club as the men. I think we need to all work together to find the best way to spend our leisure time.”
And she keeps one clever strategy up her sleeve for those tricky moments in committee meetings.
She said: “Before I became captain, we had to do a presentation and the final bit of my manifesto was that I pledged to bake a cake for every committee meeting. I take requests as well!”
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