Then and Now: Mary Queen of Scots and Hootie Johnson
A battle has been brewing since mid-summer over the exclusionary practices of Augusta National Golf Club. No matter how high each side's respective horse grows, this spat is over nothing more than golfa dumb game played mainly by highly educated people who must have better things to do.
This squabble has made Hootie Johnson of Augusta National appear like an indignant rube and Martha Burk of the National Council of Women's Organizations look like a zealot of 1st Century proportions. Neither is either.
The idea that a great political, social, financial or recreational injustice is being levied against women by there being none at Augusta is preposterous. The idea that women would bring an end to boisterous flatulence and spontaneous swirlies at the club is equally absurd.
And the argument of the self-proclaimed moral high ground, that Augusta hosts the one championship in all of golf that middle-age men circle on their calendars as must lie on the couch and see-TV, and therefore is subject to higher scrutiny than the hundreds of other men-only clubs in America, is hogwash. You're either for total desegregation of private clubs or you're not.
People, we are talking about golf. A game that has been mocked and ridiculed for centuries as being snooty, uptight, pretentious, bigoted and the haven of bad men's wear. A game, by the way, that dogs call fetch.
An activity allowing the participants to go this way then that and chase objects with no inherent value to them. Their tongues wag, they perspire and they get some fresh air. The same things happen to dogs when they play fetch.
What separates man and beast in this instance is that dogs don't dwell on playing fetch, don't read books and magazines about playing fetch, and don't spend gobs of money trying to get better at fetching. And dogs don't have private clubs that separate the genders. But then again, dogs at times do appear more evolved than us humans.
Golf has driven a wedge, and a putter for that matter, between the sexes since 1567 when Mary Queen of Scots was found on the links within days of her third husband's murder. A man she's been suspected of having had a hand in killing.
There's never been a direct correlation discovered, but when The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers was formed in 1744, the world's oldest golf club and located on Mary's former turf in Scotland, women were prohibited.
To this day ladies are still forbidden from setting foot inside the clubhouse at Muirfield Golf Links, the Honourable Company's home course and host of 15 British Opens, a tournament the rest of civilized society considers the most important in the world.
Quite frankly, I don't give a damn if Augusta lets in a woman member. There are much greater and pertinent issues at hand in the world today, not the least of which is hitting my driver straighter and longer and getting my handicap down to single digits.
I do think, however, Ms. Burk should rally the troops and give the green coats of Augusta a taste of their own medicine. There are more than enough wealthy women in this country who would gladly put together the money to buy the finest piece of real estate available, hire a world-class architect and build a club superior to Augusta. Sure it will lack tradition for the near term, but in 70-years it could be dripping with it.
They could hold a woman's version of the Masters, something the Ladies Professional Golf Association has never been able to get right, and put a big sign, in red neon, out front that reads, No Smelly Men Allowed. Unlike Augusta, which lets women play, Martha's bunch could bar those of us with an X chromosome from setting foot on the premises unless it's to mow the lawn.
Craig Brass lives in Plymouth, Michigan, and is the author of How to Quit Golf, A 12-Step Program.
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