Published Mon, Apr 16, 2012 12:20 pm Dateline
The Augusta Golf Club, home of the Masters golf tournament, has received national criticism for its strict all-male member policy, and that criticism is now being leveled at Ohio University.
Members of the OU men's golf team say they disagree with the policy.
“I do believe women should be allowed at all country clubs,” says Freshman Andrew Mlynarski.
Mlynarski, a member of the golf team, thinks that the reason women continue to be excluded is because of the roots of the sport.
“Most people don’t know what golf stands for,” said Mlynarski. “It stands for 'Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.' So from the origins of golf, women have kind of been forbidden from the game. Because country clubs are private, it’s very tough to say women can actually play.”
Golf was first introduced to America in 1743, but it wasn’t until 1888 that the first golf club was formed, which was the St. Andrew’s Golf Club in Yonkers, NY.
The men’s Professional Golf Association would form seven years later in 1895, but it wasn’t until 1950 that the Ladies Professional Golf Association would form.
Since then, women such as Annika Sörenstam and Michelle Wie, have competed alongside the men on the PGA Tour, and most country clubs now allow women to become members.
But a few clubs, like Augusta, still stick to the all-male tradition.
“Originally it was considered to be a rich man’s sport, a gentleman’s game,” said Ryan Worthy, a freshman on the OU men's golf team. “There was a time and place for that. But as everything has happened over time, not just culturally, but in golf, and with the progression of the sport, women now have their own league. They have their own tour. They should have the right to play in clubs just as much as men do.”
Yet, Augusta isn’t the only golf club in America that prohibits women from becoming members.
The Sharon Golf Club, located in Medina, OH, also has a policy of “no women members”.
"At this time, we are a private golf club and that is how we deal with memberships," said a Sharon Golf Club representative.
Women are, however, allowed to play at the club.
As for women becoming members of Augusta, Worthy said he doesn't expect to see a change.
“I just think Augusta is very strict on who they let in. They’re minority membership is very small, and unfortunately with the strictness, they’re not willing to change the rules almost. I don’t think it will happen,” he said.