Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond — the leader of the region’s devolved parliament — has refused the invitation of the R&A to attend next month’s Open Championship, citing Muirfield’s refusal to admit female members.
Though Salmond, an enthusastic golfer, has shied away from characterising his non-attendance as a boycott — *cue clucking noises*– he has made plain his frustration with the institutions responsible for staging the event:
“The R&A should have had a good think about this and perhaps politely, behind the scenes, suggested to Muirfield the public profile of being a single-sex club would be difficult.
“I don’t think it helps the game to have the suggestion of a bias against women and the greatest tournament on this planet played on arguably the greatest links golf course should have this impression that ladies, women should be second-class citizens.”
It is believed Salmond and the Scottish Minister for Sport, Shona Robison, recently contacted the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the body responsible for running Muirfield, to outline the government’s dissatisfaction with its admissions policy and urge an about-face similar to that made by Augusta National Golf Club — a former bastion of institutionalised sexism — in the run-up to last year’s Masters Tournament.
Predictably enough, Salmond’s decision has drawn the ire of Scottish Conservatives, with Jackson Carlaw, deputy leader of the Scottish Tories, even going so far as to call the decision an “alarmingly naked grab for female approval”.
Neither the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers nor the R&A has issued an official response.
If his bid for the moral high ground pays off, Salmond might just succeed in purging from the public record all mention of his last golfing misadventure: the time he spent £470,000 of public money leading an “official delegation” to the Ryder Cup.
Hurray for politics!