Peter Allis, the BBC’s voice of golf claimed that thousands of women have given up playing as a result of Harriet Harman’s Equality Act, which ended men-only tee times and restrictions on the club facilities which female players could use.
Alliss, 84, told Radio Times: “I’m told the Ladies’ Golf Union (LGU) has lost 150,000 members since equality for women came in. Hundreds of women have left golf clubs because they’ve gone from paying half fare to full fare. It’s caused mayhem.”
“All of the wives of members at these clubs could have used the facilities for free. When I was at Muirfield a couple of years ago talking to a few of the lady members, I said, ‘What about this equality? You must be happy about that?’ ‘God no,’ they said. ‘We can come here and do what we like, we can play golf and don’t pay anything.’”
Golf clubs were required to comply with the 2010 Act, which gave women more rights in work places and social settings. The commentator added:
“The equality thing is a great part of golf. Equality for women: a few people battled away to get it, they got it, and they have buggered up the game for a lot of people.”
Golf clubs were required to comply with the 2010 Act, which gave women more rights in work places and social settings. Clubs abandoned men-only bars and playing days but were required to offer women the same unrestricted membership terms as men, ending ladies’ discounts.
Commenting to the Independent newspaper, The LGU said Mr Alliss’ statistics were incorrect – membership has dropped 30,000 from 189,000 in 2010 to 159,000 in 2014. Sam Burton, LGU finance director, said:
“I had a nice conversation with Peter last week but we couldn’t agree. Our membership has fallen but I think that’s more because golf is time-consuming and more women are out working not because of equality.”
Ms Burton added: “I wouldn’t dream of joining a club where I did not have the same rights as a man. Clubs are making golf more appealing to women and men alike with 5-day subscriptions. Some older women didn’t want to pay full subscriptions.”
Women & Golf’s editor Alison Root explains how some women are paying higher fees but equality is a necessary change. Overall the changes have been for the benefit of the game, regardless of the fees. The impact has been to encourage more women and girls to play the game. Whether women like it or not, they’ve got to accept it.
Pictured: Peter Alliss with Hazel Irvine, commentating at the Ricoh Women's British Open
Image: Getty Images