Call for legal action against golf clubs if they breach Equality Act

Emma Williams
By Emma Williams May 26, 2016 12:10

A golf club administrator who says that some golf clubs are failing to comply with the Equality Act has called for an awareness campaign to be started and even for legal action to be taken against some venues.

Roy Battersby’s letter to Golf Club Management comes as the industry has been ridiculed in the wake of Muirfield’s decision to continue refusing women from becoming members, which is legal but has resulted in the club losing its status as a current host of the Open Championship.

Battersby wrote that there are “large numbers of recalcitrant golf clubs throughout the length and breadth of the UK who steadfastly refuse to embrace the requirements of the Equality Act, especially with respect to the election of officers such as captains and presidents.”

Quoting both the act, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against members on the basis of the protected characteristic of sex, and England Golf’s equality and diversity policy, which threatens disciplinary regulations for clubs that display discrimination, Battersby said many clubs are not being punished when they behave unlawfully.

“The view of England Golf is that the club captain and president must be able to be of either sex and selected through a fair process which provides women with a reasonable chance of selection,” he wrote.

“I have met with considerable obstruction to have this view accepted.

“Those in positions of influence invariably claim that adherence to their club’s traditions is more important than adapting to changes in the law.

“The idea that women will not be selected for club office ‘until Hell freezes over’ is one which flies in the face of all modern thinking in general and the future of golf clubs in particular.

“I have been asked on a number of occasions to give advice to my own golf club on this matter. The process must be transparently open for all to aspire to. Where that does not happen whether as a result of convention or constitution the practice should be amended to avoid challenge under the act by way of a county court claim for damages and a court order imposed on the defendant club to prevent future cases of discrimination.

“It seems to me that a campaign is needed urgently to persuade clubs that this head-in-the-sand approach is not sustainable and that would-be club officers must be of either gender. It may be that the time has come for test cases to be instituted in county courts in order to emphasise the acute need for change.”


Emma Williams
By Emma Williams May 26, 2016 12:10
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  1. Teeney May 4, 07:23

    I am a disabled golver who is being charged more than another disabled golver to hire a buggy because i am not able to play in competition beecause of my disability. The General committee agreed that this was not fair and decided to charge everyone the same but the management said they needed time and because it was the start of the season the charges would remain the same. The disabled members who play in Competition get it free most times and I pay £10 for 8 holes. I try to play twice a week so that is £80 a month so i will not be playing i

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  2. Bernadette October 24, 06:04

    Have any golf clubs been challenged regarding the equality Act and governance of the club? Where can I find information on any challenges?

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