Back in 1923, five years before Parliament passed the Equal Franchise Act, Welwyn Garden City GC started out with what was surely a perfect blueprint for a mixed club. Women were on a par with the men and, would you believe, they even had the same number of representatives on the committee. The club’s splendid new Centenary book – it was penned by Keith Perry and Colin Callander, two well-known names in the world of journalism – tells the story of these unlikely beginnings right through to where the women are today..
To give the briefest of updates, the relationship with the men began to falter in 1924. A gentleman member donated a prize exclusively for the opposite sex and, from that moment on, women’s-only competitions gathered in popularity. So much so that in 1927 the women wanted control of their own flourishing section and the breakaway was ratified in September of that year.
At that point, they had 70 women members. Today, though their number increased by 10% in ’22, they are down to 55. It may not sound good but what bodes well for the future is that there is a promising mix of women and, still better, there is nothing to stop them from playing on a Saturday.
Alas, the same does not apply at too many other mixed clubs. In spite of the introduction of equal membership fees, it is too often the case that the men have yet to give the women a fair crack of the whip when it comes to weekend tee-off times. With men often playing in their Saturday events from dawn to dusk, it’s hardly surprising that women are not inclined to sign on for such an arrangement. Sadly, it’s not just the older men who object to sharing their course with the women at weekends; their sons can be just as vociferous.
Inevitably, this equal subscription side of things has prompted any number of women – especially the busy ones and those with only limited funds – to think seriously about whether golf makes sense for them.
You can imagine the conversations at home…
“It would be worth it,” a woman’s partner might suggest, “if you’re going to play more, but at the moment you’re only playing a couple of times a week at most and, even then, you don’t go out when it’s too hot, too cold, too wet or too windy.”
At this point, it is maybe worth introducing the thought that we are a less hardy a breed than we were, say, 100 or so years ago. It was a celebrated Scottish Amateur champion by name of Charlotte Watson, nee Beddows, who died in ’76 when she…
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