Booth and Co aim to end golf's old school traditions
23:56 GMT, 2 December 2012
Carly Booth is a 20-year-old Scottish golfer who is third on the European Ladies’ Tour order of merit, having earned around 130,000 in prize money and won two tournaments in 2012.
We spoke on the phone last week, as Booth was playing in the Hero Women’s Indian Open, and talk turned to the future of the women’s game.
After all, golf will be an Olympic sport — for men and women — in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, one in four regular golfers in Europe are female and prize money on the European Ladies’ Tour has risen 7,700 per cent in three decades.
Success: Carly Booth celebrates winning the Scottish Open earlier this year
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But, despite the guff on the R&A’s website about golf being the game of ‘honesty, integrity and courtesy’, Booth is not allowed to be a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. ‘Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden’: isn’t that how it goes Although, silly me, that’s an old wives’ tale.
The Augusta National Golf Club admitted two female members last year but Muirfield, which will host the 2013 Open, is still a male-only organisation — ‘although ladies can play as guests or visitors every day of the week’. There is also a ‘small’ ladies’ locker room. How thoughtful of them.
‘Some courses will always have that old school tradition,’ said Booth. ‘But Augusta even had two lady members, so I’m sure they will change.
‘It’s not just Muirfield. Lots of places have separate male and female clubhouses. I don’t see why. It just isn’t right.’
There are ladies-only clubs as well, of course, but they will not host one of the greatest tournaments in sport. That is why we should get our knickers in a twist over this one: not because it’s the whim of a private club or because male golfers particularly care, but because it suggests, once again, that sportswomen are second-class citizens.
It’s against this backdrop that Booth took up the game, looking up to Annika Sorenstam but immersing herself in the men’s game and playing, even as a junior, with men ‘because there weren’t any girls to play with’. Things, however, are improving all the time.
‘The ladies’ game is definitely developing,’ says Booth. ‘There are so many lady golfers now. It’s things like how we dress; trying to get out there.
‘We want as much support as we can in the future so hopefully we can have more sponsorship, tournaments and money.’
Mission: Booth hopes to help bring an end to the male dominance of golf
Wait a minute: ‘How we dress’ Booth
is a beautiful young woman and I understand her desire to wear what she
wants to work (Ian Poulter has made a very nice sideline out of it), but
the phrase instantly jarred. Why should that matter ‘I make an effort
to look nice,’ she replies. ‘Match your shoes with your earrings,
something like that. You dress nice, you putt nice.
‘It all helps to make it more appealing. It might help to get more younger girls involved in the game, too.’
More appealing to whom, I wonder. Sex sells, but it does not always lead to a long-term commitment. Saying female athletes must be ‘feminine’ — in the stereotypical sense of the word — is a dangerous game.
But then I cannot help but smile at the idea of a lady golfer one day strolling into the clubhouse at Muirfield head to toe in pink, a fully-fledged member of the old boys’ club. Just because she wants to — and just because she can. And that’s the ultimate aim, after all.
Sky Sports HD has live coverage of the Dubai Ladies Masters between December 6-8 as part of the year-round schedule of women’s golf.
Tweet of the week
Former Australia international David Campese on the Sydney Morning
Herald’s new female rugby writer. ‘Why does the smh get a girl to write
about rugby….now we have someone who has no idea about the game!’ he
wrote, before deleting his tweet. It just shows you the danger of making
assumptions. Anyone would think he was a bloke who always thought he
was right and did not have a clue about journalism.
Main man: Bradley Wiggins
This is what I've been doing this week
Watching A Year in Yellow, a documentary about Bradley Wiggins’ last 12 months. I struggled with the claims that he is a staunchly private individual (delivered, with apparently no hint of irony, while being filmed in his garden shed or at his nan’s house), but it was impossible not to warm to him. Great Britain’s head cycling coach, Shane Sutton, was the star of the show.
Listening to a podcast of London 2012: What Now a BBC Radio 5 Live show about how athletes deal with the comedown after an Olympic Games. It was fascinating. Whether athletes’ dedication to their sport produces glory or devastation, what happens next Either way, they must be impossible to live with.
Pleased to see Nicola Adams included on the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The ‘personality’ bit seems to stand for the athlete who conjured up a moment that was the most personal to you and Adams’ history-making fight was right up there for me. So were David Weir’s four Paralympic golds, which totally transformed my view on disability sport.
Performance of the week
The men’s thrilling win at Twickenham on Saturday was a wonderful warm-up but England’s women then went on to complete a 3-0 series win against New Zealand with a 32-23 victory. Stop thinking ‘but it’s only the women’ and read that again: a 3-0 series win against the world champions, New Zealand. That is phenomenal.