Sport Golf

Saturday 24 August 2019

Merger of R&A and LGU sets the tone for a new era of gender equality

This is a new beginning for the ruling bodies and one which reflects the status of women in society and in golf.. Photo: Getty
This is a new beginning for the ruling bodies and one which reflects the status of women in society and in golf.. Photo: Getty

Liam Kelly

The announcement yesterday that the Royal and Ancient and the Ladies Golf Union are to formally merge from January 1 brings to an end 126 years of separate governance for men and women in the game.

This is a new beginning for the ruling bodies and one which reflects the status of women in society and in golf.

In Ireland, outline talks have been held by the GUI and ILGU exploring the potential unification of bodies founded in 1891 and 1893, respectively.

The example set by the R&A, who rule golf globally in tandem with the USGA, and the LGU can only hasten the process of bringing male and female golfers in Ireland under the one umbrella body.

Just over 20 years ago, a number of high-profile cases in which women members sought equal membership and equal voting rights in golf clubs focused attention on the issue.

In many cases there was an acrimonious passage from debate, through negotiation, to eventual resolution, with the GUI and the ILGU playing a role in helping clubs to set up their internal organisation to cope with the changing circumstances.

Exceptions

Now most clubs, with some notable expections, including the high-profile pair of Portmarnock and Royal Dublin, offer women equal membership.

The finalisation of the R&A and the LGU's position sets the tone for a new era.

A detailed statement issued on behalf of both bodies from St Andrews yesterday said: "The merger of the two governing bodies is a historic and hugely exciting step which will enable us to support golf and speak with one voice for all those who play - women and men and girls and boys.

"The integration of the two organisations puts us in a better, stronger position to realise our collective vision for growing the game of golf around the world and our combined resources and staff expertise will help us to achieve our shared aims for the development of golf."

Meanwhile, Curtis Cup team winner Maria Dunne from Skerries rounded off a memorable year with an impressive performance in the 100th All India Ladies amateur championship in Delhi.

Dunne reached the semi-finals of the championship before eventual winner Nur Durriah Damian of Malaysia beat her on the 18th.

The Irish player then defeated Tsai Wei Chia of Chinese Taipei 3&2 to finish a highly credible third overall.

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