I really enjoy reading my copy of Golf Monthly and other golf magazines. One of my favourite sections in every publication is the Letters Pages where informative snippets, helpful suggestions and the occasional rant at one thing or another give you a great insight into all things golf.
In a recent publication I was drawn to a letter of the month entitled ‘A Question of Etiquette’. In it the writer was seeking advice on how to handle golf with the fairer sex. Sorry I couldn’t think of any other way of putting it. The writer was somewhat troubled by a lack of written etiquette about bodily contact in mixed competitions – his words not mine – and proceeded to ask questions about when to kiss, when to hug and where to position your hands. All very delicate topics I’m sure.
Now whether or not he was entirely serious was not very clear but the question was quite timely given some of the more fundamental decisions that are facing the golfing establishment.
Peter Dawson of The R&A announced that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews will vote in September whether to allow female members for the first time in its 260-year history. I’ve never met Peter but when I’ve seen him interviewed on TV he always comes across as a sensible chap, ably equipped to convey preservation of the history and traditions of the game but in a modern context. He knows that golf has to move on in order to survive.
"We're never sure of the outcome. I think it's the right thing, and I hope that R&A members do what's right for golf." said Dawson. Dawson will step down from his roles in 2015 and I, for one, will look back on his tenure as someone who really has led the R&A into the commercial world in which golf exists today.
Whenever The Open is played at a male only membership club the question of gender equality hits the headlines but I’m sure that it won’t be long before all clubs have mixed membership. My club is a little more advanced in equality with most competitions having a mixed entry even when they are played as separate mens and ladies events …and for the most part it works.
Golf Membership in the UK is split approximately 75% men, 15% women and 10% juniors, with the female split on the continent higher at 25-30%. When I was making plans to launch a range of timepieces for golfers it was natural to start with the men as there are more male golfers - but don’t worry a range of ladies watches will follow very quickly. I’ve just seen the final prototypes and I’m excited and really pleased that the design features and the function of the sports timepiece still work nicely when applied to a fashionable ladies version.
There were originally just thirteen rules of golf scribed on one piece of paper but now the pocket book Rules of Golf extends to over two hundred pages covering thirty four rules and appendices. Thankfully the etiquette section is just four pages long, reminding the golfer of the Spirit of the Game, Safety and the core principles of golf etiquette – show consideration for others, play at a good pace and take care of the course. If every golfer simply remembers those three principles then the game will remain in a good sporting place. So I hope the simplicity of the etiquette section prevails and by ‘showing consideration to others’ – in this case the lady golfer - each male golfer can find their own way to an acceptable solution to the questions the writer posed.
My simple interpretation is a polite shake of hands and a friendly peck on the cheek if offered.
Very ETIQUS indeed.
Enjoy your (mixed) golf.