The oldest golf club in the world, Muirfield Golf Club, located in Scotland, the birthplace of golf, recently decided to provide women the opportunity to have equal membership with male members. It took 273 years, but as Virginia Slims once proclaimed, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
This change in policy came after the famed golf club was denied the chance to host the British Open golf championship because of its membership rules. Other clubs like R&A, The Royal St George’s and Royal Troon in Scotland, Augusta National in the USA, and most recently the Royal Adelaide Golf Club in Australia have changed their membership policies to allow for full membership to women.
But the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, not far from Tokyo, has stuck to its guns despite significant pressure to offer equal membership rights to women. Currently, female members of the Kasumigaseki C. C. are not considered full members, and are not allowed to play on Sundays. Ordinarily, this particular policy would go unnoticed if not for the fact that Kasumigaseki C. C. was selected to be the Olympic venue for golf during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike fired the first salvo in January when she said she felt “very uncomfortable that women cannot become full members in the 21st century.”
More recently, International Olympic Committee Vice President, John Coates, said that “Image-wise, our position is clear. We will only go to a club that has non-discrimination.”
Coates went on to reveal that discussions with the Kasumigaseki Country Club have been positive, and that “It’s heading in the right direction for them to have a nondiscriminatory membership procedure. It would appear that we should be able to have this result by the end of June.”
So will Kasumigaseki Country Club end up par for the course, or will they shank their last drive and lose out on this golden opportunity at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
UPDATE: On March 20, 2017, the 15 board members of the Kasumigaseki Golf Club, all men, voted unanimously to overturn restrictions on full membership for women.
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