My problem with Muirfield isn’t a dress – it’s about progression

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NCG’s Hannah Holden has been in the national news for the past few days for speaking out against outdated traditions. But, she writes, there is an important message behind it all

I want to address an elephant in the room. It seems I caused quite a stir on social media last week when I posted my disdain at the wording of an invitation to a media day at Muirfield.

One sentence in particular stood out: “Dress code…will be jacket and tie for men, jacket or long-sleeved dress for women.

My complaint was simple. Why aren’t we allowed to trust ourselves with the decision to dress smart without being so weirdly specific? (And what happened in the past that led them to the conclusion that a woman’s arm should not be displayed at the table?)

Unfortunately, as is often the case on social media, a lot of people missed it. I have no problem with the traditions of golf. But I have a problem with anything that restricts access to the game. Anyone.

Which brings me to my next point. Why was the Women’s Open awarded to a golf club that many believe only opened its membership to female golfers to stay on the Open rotation?

If you’re not familiar with the story, in 2016 the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers voted against such a decision.

The message was clear – women are not valued here. In the ensuing fallout, the R&A stripped the club of its right to host golf’s oldest major.

Two years later, the decision was reversed. But even then, only 80% of the members voted in favour. That sounds like a lot, but it still means one in five people have decided they don’t want women to join their club.

And their reward for being kicked and screamed into the 21st century? The biggest tournament in women’s soccer outside of the United States.

It won’t surprise you that sexism is something I’ve had to deal with throughout my life, especially in such a male-dominated sport. If you’re a golfer, I’m sure you’ll like it.

The game has become more inclusive and progressive in recent years, but sometimes something that feels like two steps backwards happens.

It’s so disappointing that somewhere seemingly so against moving with the times doesn’t face the proper penalties.

If your first thought is, ‘Well, there are women’s only golf clubs.’ You’re right, and there shouldn’t be. But think about why they had to exist in the first place.

We can’t change history, and many places had a men’s only policy in the past, but there are plenty of clubs that are much more progressive and actually make an effort to support women’s football.

For now, they are the ones to be rewarded.

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