Walmersley Golf Club has broken down barriers to women's participation in golf by introducing equal playing rights. As great news as it, it has got us thinking – why isn't it the norm everywhere else already?
By Charlotte Ibbetson
The Lancashire club has established equal playing rights and privileges for both male and female members. The move comes as part of a much bigger strategy at the club to encourage more women into the game, which includes weekly taster sessions for beginners and a buddy system for new joiners.
Previously, certain tee times had been reserved exclusively for men. But now, paying equal membership fees, women will be entitled to play whenever they choose.
"Being able to play at any time, even a few holes, will make the game more accessible," commented Helen Parkinson, Lady Captain. "Playing after work is not always possible, while the alternative of playing on a Sunday has not always been so popular."
"If the game of golf seeks to move forward, it needs to change with society and give equal opportunities to everyone – regardless of gender."
Club Captain Steve Fox added,"this major change has been well received by everyone and we are proud of the agreement to implement this proposal. It means equal opportunity for all and is welcomed by the male players at the club. Equal playing rights and the same privileges is seen as the only way forward."
It's so encouraging to hear how well the decision has been received at the club, but it has got me thinking: In this day and age, why haven't all golf clubs followed suit already? Professionals from both the men and women's tours can compete together on the same course for the same prize money, people who actually make their living from the game, so why can't club golfers?
Does the problem lie within the antiquated rules that seem to govern so many golf clubs? At my own home club, it wasn't until I started to show up on a Saturday morning that everyone realised that the so-called law that women couldn't play on a Saturday was, in fact, an unwritten myth. Nowhere was there an official club rule that banned women showing up on a chilly weekend morning, but yet it was totally accepted. Not until it was challenged did anyone think twice.
Or is it that some women don't actually mind? There's certainly an argument if it means paying cheaper membership fees. Could a resolution be to offer more flexible memberships to everyone, regardless of gender, based on how much they plan to play?
It's a complex issue with a lot of moving parts, but one that I think governing bodies could do more to address.