by G. Rennie
Even though the competition has yet to kick off at Muirfield there was plenty of action at the Open venue today as Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, held sway at his annual pre- championship media conference. Dawson is an impressive figure with a resonant baritone voice, a polished delivery and even a hint of wit. He also is steeped in tradition, oozes a sense of noblesse oblige, and has no hesitation in dismissing questions , and questioners, he considers foolish.
The topic of the day was the exclusionary status of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers which owns Muirfield the host club for the 2013 Open Championship. The club dates to 1744 and it has a policy that excludes women from membership. Dawson was peppered with questions from the British media today all of which implied that the R&A was wrong headed in conducting this year’s Championship at a club which didn’t admit women. He was also queried on the suitability of maintaining Muirfield and two other clubs with similar policies, Royal St. George’s and Royal Troon, in the Open Rota.
Dawson’s response was straight from the Hootie Johnson play book as he trivialized the issue and tried to dismiss it. But the journalists wouldn’t let it go as they seemed to smell blood in the water while being a bit incredulous at the baldness of Dawson’s defense.
It was like Mr. Dawson had stepped into Well’s time machine and saw himself in an earlier time when Britannia ruled the waves, the Queen wore the crown of an Empress, and women knew their place. It was great theater and a train wreck all at once.
One item that wasn’t raised or questioned was the fact that the R&A itself is a male only entity. It’s not surprising that they would be at most indifferent to other clubs with similar policies.
Well I’ve had my fill with all the talk, let’s play some golf. Where’s Ivor Robson?