Male members of St Andrew’s Golf Club, founded in 1843 as St Andrews Mechanics’ Golf Club, can relax. There are no plans to let women actually join the exclusive club.
But women could be allowed into the traditionally all male domain of the members’ lounge in the clubhouse.
It has been reported that club members are being asked to “consider” whether the club’s current Constitution should be changed to comply with the Equalities Act of 2010.
Now let’s ignore the notion of a club considering whether it should comply with the law. It probably says much for the membership that there has to be a debate. What exactly does this new legislation mean for the club?
The Equality Act does not ban single sex clubs, but it does outlaw discriminate by private clubs on the basis of gender. And this affects St, Andrew’s because at present only members (all male of course) and their male guests are allowed to use the members’ lounge.
Club officials have set out three possible three options and a special meeting next month will make the final decision.
The first option is to continue to operate in the same was as always. Somehow this seems to be interpreted as requiring a ban of women from all areas of the clubhouse. This is not supported by officials, mainly because the dining room would suffer!
The second option is to ban all guests, male and female, from the members’ lounge. This is also seen as undesirable, because of a possible drop in turnover.
The third option is the one recommended to members. This would involve changing the operation of the clubhouse to permit access to all public areas to members and their guests, irrespective of gender.
Yes, this debate really is happening in 2011, not in some bygone age.
Wonder how long it will take the worthies to consider offering membership of their club to women?