Arrowtown Golf Club’s in the gun for banning women from a weekly competition – a problem New Zealand Golf is this week trying to resolve.
For at least 20 years, women freely competed with men in Saturday club competitions.
Last October, however, the men’s match committee announced women could only compete amongst themselves.
The committee had been having “issues and problems” over women’s differential scoring, and acted after a member’s written complaint over a woman member’s eligibility for an event.
Only three women, who were playing on Saturday because they worked week days, had been regularly playing against the men.
One of them, Joanna Booker, calls the club ban “misogyny gone mad”.
“In this day and age where the world is striving for equity between the sexes, it seems that Arrowtown Golf Club has taken a large step backwards.”
“We would love to have sorted this out within the club but we’ve exhausted our avenues there and been told that we have no speaking rights with the men’s match committee.”
Booker says she and the others feel marginalised at a time when NZ Golf, ironically, is trying to redress the dire dropoff of women members.
She says she was the only woman playing last Saturday and felt embarrassed having to accept the women’s prize, particularly as “my score was a bit shit”.
Maria Arhanic, who’s played Saturday mixed golf at Arrowtown since 2001, says: “Where do you ever come across a competition that’s one person?
“That’s not a competition, and all it does is make you not feel part of it.
“You feel like a leper.”
Arhanic says “basically [the men’s match committee] weren’t able to do the results consistently correctly, and we made the mistake of complaining”.
“We complained and then we got a sledgehammer approach – they totally over-reacted to something that could have been resolved.
“They’ve never once sat down with the three of us and said, ‘how can we resolve these issues?”‘
Men’s match committee member Drew Findlay, who admits he’s in a minority, says banning women competing with men is “ridiculous in this day and age”.
He describes the club’s move as “very backward” and “male chauvinistic”.
Mountain Scene wasn’t able to contact club president Bill Giller this week.
Speaking in his stead, vice-president Paul Palmer disagrees that women have been booted out of the men’s Saturday competition after about 20 years.
He says the problems arose after the women started playing off the men’s tees, or white tees, just over two years ago, yet were given an extra six shots.
“Basically, the match committee, in their wisdom, and I wasn’t involved in this decision, wanted to revert back to the old system of those ladies playing off the yellow tees.
“Some aspects of the communication in doing that weren’t good.”
Speaking yesterday, NZ Golf chief executive Dean Murphy says club members have approached his organisation for help.
“We’ve adopted a ‘women in golf’ charter – we’re very keen on promoting inclusivity and non-exclusivity for golf.
“Our view is that for competitions or for playing days or for any kind of activity at a golf cub, there shouldn’t be any restrictions whatsoever.”
Murphy says NZ Golf is urging Arrowtown “to consider a different path forward”.
“Ultimately the club can make their own decision, but we think there’s probably a more preferable way forward than antagonising particular groups.
“We’re not stepping in or investigating or bringing out the big stick – we’re just going to work with the club to help it find a solution that everyone can be happy with.”