Mar
15
2017
Rory McIlroy slams Muirfield for taking so long to open doors to women
By Stephanie Wei under Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy has never been shy when it comes to voicing his opinions. I, for one, am pleased to see that he has stayed true to himself and not allowed backlash and strong criticisms over the years for speaking his mind deter him from continuing to do so.

Muirfield, which last hosted the Open in 2013, earned a spot “back” on the rota of venues for the major championship on Tuesday after the all-mens club finally voted to allow women members for the first time in its nearly 300-year-old existence. 

Yay?

During his pre-tourney presser at Bay Hill ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Wednesday, Rory, who won the Open at Royal Liverpool in 2014, certainly didn’t mince words when asked about Muirfield’s latest vote.

Muirfield wouldn’t be one of my favorite Open rota courses, so no matter the decision yesterday, if it had been kept off The Open Championship rota, I wouldn’t have been that unhappy. But no, I think it’s — obviously I was outspoken about this before whenever the vote went the first time around (against the women). I mean, in this day and age, where you’ve got women that are like the leaders of certain industries and women that are heads of state and not to be able to join a golf course? I mean, it’s obscene. Like it’s ridiculous.

So, they sort of saw sense. I still think that it got to the stage, this stage, is horrendous. And yeah, I mean, we’ll go back and we’ll play The Open Championship, because they will let women members in, but every time I go to Muirfield now I won’t have a great taste in my mouth.

Preach, Rory, Preach! Yes, he even said that he wasn’t sure the R&A — one of golf’s two governing bodies, along with the USGA, which puts on the oldest major championship — should’ve reinstated Muirfield as a host venue of the Open.

A follow-up question was then asked whether he thought it was “obscene” how 20% of the membership still opposed opening up the membership to women.

Yeah, I know, exactly. It’s horrendous. I mean, I just don’t, I don’t get it. So, anyway, look, we’ll go back there for The Open Championship at some point and I won’t be having many cups of tea with the members afterwards.

Last year during the first vote the club staged, the “Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers” (I guess that’s what Muirfield’s men’s club call themselves) came up short in reaching the 2/3 majority required to open the membership to women, and the R&A responded swiftly, formally removing Muirfield from the official Open rota. Less than a year later, 80% of the membership voted to change, and just as quickly, the R&A reacted by announcing that Muirfield was back on the official rotation of Open venues.

Ugh, now, I hate that I even have to address this issue, but I’ve already gotten feedback from people on Twitter, who have brought up the fact that Rory finds Muirfield’s actions obscene, but he’ll play golf with President Donald Trump, who doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to issues involving women.

I don’t want to argue and rant on the difference of these two things. Rory’s already addressed the issue of accepting the invitation. I’ve ranted and defended him enough on it. Like I’ve said, if I were important enough, I would’ve accepted the invitation, as well. Four hours in a golf cart to try and influence POTUS in a “Bernhard Langer” kind of way? Hell yeah. And again, I’ll note that I’m one of very few (one or maybe two others) who has been very opinionated and spoken passionately about my stance on certain policies and the conduct of our current POTUS.

Let’s review Rory’s comments re: Trump from Mexico:

“Obviously we know how the campaign went and how divisive it was. We knew all that, and we knew — but I mean, I guess I just approached it, as I said in my statement, a round of golf, and more for putting all — anyone’s beliefs or politics or whatever, just put that to one side for a minute. Like to go there and see 30 Secret Service and 30 cops and snipers in the trees, it’s just — I mean, it was just a surreal experience for me to see something like that.

“That was part of the reason I wanted to go and play. If it had been Obama, I would have went to play. I’ve played golf with President Clinton, I’ve spent time with President Bush. I’ve been around quite a few presidents before, and again, like putting beliefs and whatever to one side, I just wanted to have an experience that I mightn’t ever get, like play golf with a sitting president. You can respect the guy, not respect the guy, I don’t care, but if someone has a chance to play in that scenario and just sort of experience the whole thing.

“I get the divisive rhetoric and everything that was said. It’s a tough place to be in, it’s a tough position. Maybe if I look back on it, I put myself in a position where I was going to get that from either side one way or the other. But again, I was just doing what I felt was respectful and the president of the United States phones you up and wants to play golf with you, you know, I wasn’t going to say no, like I don’t agree with everything that he says. But I never — it is what it is. I’m not an American, I can’t change the way the political system is there. What’s going to happen? I can’t vote.

“As I said, I said this in Doral last year, even if I could vote I definitely — I would have voted for an independent or someone else. But look, it is what it is and I actually enjoyed myself, I had a good time. I’m sorry if I sort of, I don’t know, pissed people off, but I felt I was in a position where I couldn’t really do anything but say yes, respect the office even if you don’t respect the guy that’s in it, go play and go from there.”

One last time: Rory’s strong words for Muirfield’s membership and personal thoughts on women’s rights isn’t the same as accepting a front-row seat to our national shitshow — which is essentially what he said above. He’s been intrigued like everyone else with this real life reality horror show and wanted to see it for himself. It wasn’t a political statement of any kind. Yes, he could’ve made one by not accepting the invite.

Personally, I think we’re conflating two different issues, but feel free to disagree or just agree to disagree, k? Last time we had this argument, I filed the paperwork to have my party affiliation officially changed to “Independent” for my voter registration.

Let’s also remember Rory reported this on his own, as well. And he isn’t the only high-profile golfer who recently played with the President. Why aren’t we all over Tiger Woods? Or Ernie Els, who spoke so glowingly about the experience that you may have thought he had played with second coming of Christ?

Whatever. I hate myself that I even felt the need to address people bringing up this past issue and using it against Rory lambasting Muirfield and its (formerly) backwards membership policy, along with his disgust for the “Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.”

Bravo, Rory!