Catriona Matthew story ‘reinforces golf’s negative image’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 10, 2020 13:02

The revelation that the daughter of Europe’s Solheim Cup captain, Catriona Matthew, had to leave a golf club bar because her shorts were unhemmed has led to The Telegraph publishing an editorial arguing that snooty attitudes in golf clubs threatens the current boom in demand for the game.

Matthew posted on social media that her daughter, who is a junior member of a Scottish golf club, was buying a drink to take outside after finishing her round, when she was spoken to.

In the replies several people revealed they have had similar experiences, ranging from a person being asked to leave the clubhouse for carrying an infant who was wearing denim dungarees to a five-month pregnant woman being ordered to tuck in her shirt.

This led The Telegraph’s golf correspondent, James Corrigan, to pen a thought-provoking piece arguing that there is much to be positive about regarding the game at the moment – but also much to be concerned about.

The number of rounds played in England this June was up 70 per cent year-on-year; consider also that golf club memberships have shot up by an average of around 10 per cent and, in some cases, even more,’ he wrote.

Glencruitten Golf Club have 200-plus new members, more than double the 170 they had before the lockdown. Hear the Golf Foundation announce an 11 per cent increase in junior membership in the network of 437 clubs that have been awarded accredited status as a fun and family friendly junior facility.

‘These are incredible numbers and they are backed up by the youngsters playing at the elite end. In conversation with Sir Nick Faldo recently, he was crooning about his Faldo Junior Series, an initiative that was established in 1996 as a global amateur series for boys and girls aged from 12 to 21. “Our entry numbers are off the charts,” Faldo said. At eight events in the UK, the series boasted 1,199 participants compared to 587 in 2019. Of these, 197 were girls compared to 31 last year.

Catriona Matthew. Credit: Tristan Jones

‘Golf is booming and with so many accessible schemes and with the energy, drive and funding of the golf unions and the R&A, it must be wondered what could possibly go wrong.’

Corrigan adds that there is something that can go wrong.

‘Snooty golf clubs. They were responsible for the last great missed chance at the end of the last century, when a proliferation of courses opened as participation shot through the clubhouse roofs. All too soon the enthusiastic departed, the new layouts shut and survey after survey pointed to one of the main culprits being the stuffy attitude and arcane rules. Not again, please.

‘A sizeable proportion of the general population still believe those clubhouses to be archaic bastions of retired middle management, where jeans are not permitted, collars compulsory and ties must be worn after 7pm.

‘Believe it, the “pompous blazer brigade” is still out there and if their ghastly influence is not eradicated immediately, they could inflict one final, debilitating wound on a sport they laughably claim to be protecting.

‘Yes, eventually, those ludicrous dinosaurs will die off and their ridiculous old customs will be blessedly extinct, leaving the sport to make inroads into modern reality. But, by then, golf might have forsaken a huge opportunity and turned away the masses rather than luring them in forever.’


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 10, 2020 13:02
Write a comment


  1. Neil Sjoberg August 14, 01:35

    As Abbie says above change starts at the top.Those who reach the positions of power in our golf clubs and governing bodies do so as their golf skills fade and their interest in Clubhouse life grows. Those people quickly forget the sport Golf (the thrill of hitting a ball with a club) is the driver of success.Tax breaks and an industry focussed on luxurious clubhouses and high end lifestyles has always historically destroyed long term success. “The traditions of golf” has always been a smokescreen for elitism and expensive exclusivity.

    Reply to this comment
  2. djm August 13, 12:15

    As ever, the usual suspects on here pile in to identify as the main problem being (in their words) the “Blazer Brigade”.

    The reality being – of course – that the on going insuperable problem remains the attitude of golf club wimmin members towards younger (wimmin) players.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Ivor August 11, 11:23

    Thought provoking indeed. Complacency and indifference so easily installed and difficult to repair…#RealTalk #DrivenbyDiversity #BetheChange

    Reply to this comment
  4. Auke August 10, 10:59

    As a passionate promoter of the game it really saddens me to read this

    Reply to this comment
  5. Steve D August 9, 20:15

    I think it’s also really important for clubs with incredibly outdated rules to realise that they’re losing a lot of potential income by keeping them as it puts off many potential members and visitors. Modernisation is clearly the key to make sure the current boom in participation is maintained in the medium to long term

    Reply to this comment
  6. Tim K August 9, 13:34

    Sorry just one word ‘disgusting’ and the club and the people who run it should be ashamed of themselves.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Abbie August 9, 13:30

    Change starts at the top, where the rules are made… I think there are still plenty of blazers being worn at the R&A!

    Reply to this comment
  8. David G August 9, 13:12

    A great article and one that has concerned me for a while. Golf needs to modernise to continue to attract these new golfers into the game and then encourage them into memberships. Certain traditions can remain but a modern thought process is essential.

    Reply to this comment
  9. PFA August 8, 23:16

    Firstly what right do non members of a club have to try and enforce their will and beliefs onto others.
    As for Catriona Mattews let’s just wait and see what the future holds on her claims!!

    Reply to this comment
  10. Andrew L August 8, 12:59

    This current ‘boom’ is golf’s great opportunity for long lost growth. For sure we’ll lose some of the new members/golfers as other sports re-emerge. However our greatest threat is the pomposity of the so called blazer brigade (whether they actually wear one or not), and how they too often put the masses off.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Michelle August 8, 12:19

    Insightful article

    Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:

For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: