Observations . . .
The decision by the R&A to not allow Muirfield to host future Open Championships because of its male-only membership policy has predictably elicited howls of indignation on a number of fronts. Let’s recap:
- “It’s a private club! It can do what it wants!”
- Yes, this is true. And Muirfield can continue that policy and function as a private club. But since the R&A decided a few years ago to (finally) enter the 21st century, Muirfield will have to pay the consequences of that policy.
- “The members of Muirfield are pig-headed chauvinists!”
- 64% of the membership at Muirfield voted to allow women as members; unfortunately, changing the bylaws there require a 2/3 majority. Apparently, there was a core group of 33 members who circulated a petition to vote against the bylaw change.
- “Royal Troon (who is hosting this year’s Open) is male-only! Why are they allowed to host?”
- Troon’s turn on the Open rota was established before the R&A’s own decision to allow female members and to establish this policy. The club is currently taking up the matter and will take a vote this year. If it chooses not to change its policy, one assumes it will suffer the same fate as that of Muirfield.
- “How can the R&A NOT have Muirfield in the rota? It’s legendary!”
- Yes, it is. Names like Vardon, Hagan, Player, Nicklaus, Trevino, Faldo, Els, and Mickelson have won there. Muirfield is by almost universally acclaimed as the best Open venue, with its unique clockwise/counter-clockwise routing for each 9 that challenges players with a different wind direction on every hole. It will most certainly be missed.
Having said that – the R&A has already added Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush and could conceivably look at classics like Royal County Down, Royal Aberdeen, and (a long shot logistically but still) Royal Dornoch. Castle Stewart, while a newer track, has hosted a Scottish Open and has all the earmarks of a classic links. These are all strong alternatives.
In any event, it’s a fine mess.
[POSTSCRIPT: This may be reconsidered. Stay tuned.]
The month of April was an embarrassment of golfing riches for the Golf Nerd Goddess and me. Sharon went on an all-women’s trip (no action from the R&A on that one) to Cabo San Lucas and teed it up at the Cabo del Sol Ocean Couse and Pamilla. Golf in Cabo is surreal; imagine playing in a desert landscape (a la Scottsdale or Tucson) that borders the ocean.
Meanwhile, in addition to my day at Augusta, I had the opportunity to play two noteworthy tracks – East Lake (the final PGA Tour stop of the year) and Atlanta Country Club. East Lake has a very historical vibe to it, being the course where Bobby Jones learned the game. Its clubhouse has the characteristics of a museum, with cool artifacts present everywhere. The course itself is not a pushover by any means, but is very playable for the average golfer. And its walking-only policy is to be commended.
Atlanta Country Club at one time held a Tour event, and for my money is a stronger test than East Lake – and aesthetically, it’s a beauty; with it’s tall pines, beautiful azaleas, and elevation changes, it’s a poor man’s Augusta – although with what I am told regarding its initiation fees, there’s nothing poor about it.
But the biggest surprise was the trip Sharon and I took to Sedona, AZ. There are three courses in the immediate city, and we played two of them. Oakcreek, a Robert Trent Jones design, was rather pedestrian, but the Sedona Golf Resort was a real winner, with views of the famous red rocks in abundance on every hole. Plus I swear we had a vortex experience on the 5th hole – the wind suddenly began to swirl vigorously in a circular pattern to the point where we thought some sort of Native American ghost would appear from its eye. It stopped after a few minutes, and my ensuing 7-iron approach shot landed about 5 feet from the hole. I am now a believer.
Our favorite LPGA player and house guest, Julie Yang, stayed with us for the North Texas Shootout. Alas, she did not make the cut, but she is faring much better on the tour this year. Even though she did not play on the weekend, I watched her Thursday and Friday, and she seemed much more at ease on the course than she did last year. She’s made three cuts and has much more confidence. I love this kid.
Finally – we’ve enjoyed an unusually nice Texas spring, which has left our two courses (and most of those in the area) in magnificent condition. Right now, we’re as green as Ireland. Although Lone Star doesn’t compare to Guiness.
Hit ‘em straight, y’all.