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Thursday 8 December 2016

Prestigious golf club considers ending its 'men-only' policy

Sam Griffin

Published 09/05/2015 | 02:30

Portmarnock Golf Club, which has hosted numerous prestigious tournaments including the Irish Open, has written to its existing membership to gauge views on the possibility of ending its controversial 'men-only' policy
Portmarnock Golf Club, which has hosted numerous prestigious tournaments including the Irish Open, has written to its existing membership to gauge views on the possibility of ending its controversial 'men-only' policy

One of the country's best-known golf clubs is to consider allowing women to become members for the first time.

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Portmarnock Golf Club, which has hosted numerous prestigious tournaments including the Irish Open, has written to its existing membership to gauge views on the possibility of ending its controversial 'men-only' policy.

The development follows similar moves by other golf clubs, including the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in Scotland, where members last year voted overwhelmingly to allow women join.

The communication has come from the Portmarnock club captain John Conway as the current polices in place at the course come under review.

He is consulting members on their support or opposition to opening the club up to women.

The club implements a century-old rule whereby women are only allowed to play a round of golf at the north Dublin course and cannot become full members. Furthermore, only wives and daughters of members are allowed play the course on Sundays.

The club successfully defeated a legal challenge brought against it in 2009 after it was alleged the policy of not allowing female members was "discriminatory".

Gender

In the letter, Mr Conway says he anticipates some members may be opposed to the change.

"Some members will say 'if it's not broke, why fix it?' The club won a legal action in the Supreme Court in 2009. So, why should we revisit the gender issue now?"

He adds: "The club is aware of certain consequences which the current 'gender policy' imposes on the club, which may impair our ability to contribute to the development and promotion of golf in Ireland."

He tells members the club will now begin a consultation process and will employ an outside agency to facilitate the process.

The second stage of the process will see a confidential and anonymous survey sent to members to complete.

The third stage will consist of a written report by the outside experts on the findings of the first stages and outline any recommendations.

At that stage the club may make a recommendation to members regarding a vote on the issue. However, if a consensus for change has not emerged, the proposal may be dropped, Mr Conway told members.

He concludes that he believes that the members "will warm to this consultation process and will engage with enthusiasm. I don't think the issue will be divisive, nor should it be."

Portmarnock has hosted the Irish Open on 19 occasions but has not staged the event since 2003. The Royal Dublin Golf Club is the only other club here that implements a men-only membership rule.

Irish Independent

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