Tuesday 20 February 2018

Ladies Golf Union hits back at Peter Aliss comments that equality has 'b******* up' the sport

Veteran commentator Peter Alliss
Veteran commentator Peter Alliss

Sherna Noah

Veteran BBC commentator Peter Alliss has said attempts to give women equal rights in golf have "caused mayhem" - but his comments have been criticised by the Ladies' Golf Union.

Recent legislation has given women more rights in golf clubs, while St Andrews and Royal St George's have both voted to admit female members for the first time.

But Alliss told the Radio Times magazine that equality for women had "b******* up the game for a lot of people".

"There's been a hell of a row because four golf courses that hold the Open Championship didn't have women members," he said.

"I'm told the Ladies' Golf Union has lost 150,000 members since equality for women came in. Hundreds of women have left golf clubs because they've gone from paying half fare to full fare. It's caused mayhem.

"All of the wives of members at these clubs could have used the facilities for free. When I was at Muirfield a couple of years ago talking to a few of the lady members, I said, 'What about this equality? You must be happy about that?' 'God no,' they said. 'We can come here and do what we like, we can play golf and don't pay anything'."

He added: "The equality thing is a great part of golf. Equality for women: a few people battled away to get it, they got it, and they have b******* up the game for a lot of people."

LGU finance director Sam Burton understands "where he is coming from" but believes Alliss has spoken out of turn and disputed his figures.

She told The Telegraph: "We had 189,000 members in 2010 and we've gone down to 159,000 in 2014. We've lost 30,000 members which isn't good.

"I know where he's coming from but personally I don't think that's the reason. I think he's speaking for a very small minority, probably the older lady golfer.

"The clubs he's referring to where the wife just got to play because her husband was a member - I don't know any such clubs. People who are serious about their golf wouldn't really see that as acceptable."

Alliss' comments come as the 2016 Open Championship will be the last to be broadcast live on the BBC before Sky Sports takes over.

The former professional golfer, 84, told the magazine: "I very much regret that the BBC has lost the Open Championship, but I said it might do 10 years ago."

He admitted that the BBC could not compete with Sky's deep pockets but added: "I don't think there were enough people at the BBC dealing with the negotiations who cared enough.

"I can think of a couple of heads of sport from years ago who would have battled harder. But, having said that, when people get used to it I think the highlights will be wonderfully supported."

Alliss defended his style from critics, saying: "I think they just don't like my delivery. They either think I waffle on, or don't know enough about the young players coming up.

"'You're living in the past! You're one of the old Colonel Blimp school: must wear a tie to go and have a pee in the clubhouse.' That sort of thing.

"I think I've moved very well with the times. But there are certain standards in golf that have been there forever."

He said that he could not imagine working for Sky.

"They never asked me. I was a BBC man through-and-through and they paid me well enough," he said.

"I think Sky is magnificent and if you like golf it's amazing, but they do it differently. The presenters look different. If I went to Sky the best I could do is sit in the studio or have a pre-tournament ramble about the players."

Alliss added: "I was watching golf from Dubai a couple of weeks ago. It is a masterpiece, one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World. Every skyscraper is different. And in the middle of the desert they have created a golfing oasis.

"Not once in over four hours did the commentator say, 'What an amazing place this is'. You hoped the camera would pan round, lift up from the course. I would have said something daft like, 'If you've got very good eyesight, you might just see Lawrence of Arabia over that hill'."

He said that he had "thought about leaving" the BBC.

"I've got problems getting about but the brain is still sharp enough," he added.

"When I don't think it's sharp enough, I shall say I'm off. The BBC keep saying to me, 'Stay as long as you like.'

"It's lovely nonsense. What if I live to be 105? They'll only keep me as long as I'm all right, and I'll only stay as long as I'm all right," he said.

Press Association

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