Why The National is (and Augusta National was) a men-only private golf club.

The cracks in gender soupism being always and everywhere apparent to the keenly trained eye, and almost endlessly amusing to armchair anthropologists comme moi, there’s nary a corner of God’s green earth that doesn’t stand as a beautiful affront to the progressive mantra of absolutely enforced equality of outcome,i the green earth carpeting private golf clubs being no exception.

While the entirety of my competitive golfing was between 2002 – 2010, after which I stopped paying attention to the sport almost entirely, it was only after coming across Why Women Putt Worse Than Men : Experts debate the stats, the empirical evidence and the future by Matthew Rudy for Golf Digest – via some economics blog or other – that I thought of men-only private clubs for the first time in… ever, probably. I never played at a men-only club, but now as a young family man, I can very much see the appeal : an urban oasis for competitive play with friends or between father and son.

Not that there are so many men-only private clubs to pick from anymore : even August National, the home of The Master, broke down in 2012 and invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mexican dish and “financier” Darla Moore to be members.ii And in all of Canada’s ten million square kilometres, only The National in Toronto, designed by the Fazio father-son duo, can claim exclusively male membership. Ferfuxake there’s as many women-only clubs in the country. Though like Spa Lady, these are obviously less contentious.iii Because reasons. Because it’s exclusively whiny bitches who aren’t getting laid making all the fuss about the men-only courses.

But anyways, history’s not done being written, and in much the same way that the snubbed Jews made Glendales to call home in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s,iv so too will men eventually tell their wives and girlfriends to fuck off entirely while the boys get together for drinks, pranks, and hours upon hours of gambling.v But other than horsing around with your WoT, what’s the appeal of men-only clubs ? Ok, how does “only playing with people who can putt worth a damn and who are mentally capable of moving on after a bad hole” grab you ?

Now what the fuck am I on about ? Aren’t men and women equal at everything and allthethings, and aren’t women capable of being just as delicate on the greens and tough between the ears as men ? To quote Rudy’s piece :

Sanders collected performance data from thousands of rounds over a three-year span, then adjusted it to account for differences in course difficulty. He found that men one-putted from four to 10 feet 41 percent of the time compared with 37 percent for women. Also, men three-putted from 15 to 40 feet 13 percent of the time compared with 17 percent for women. Those are significant differences among amateurs.

Statistics tell only part of the story, but teachers who have played and taught on tour say the anecdotal evidence supports the numbers. “I’ve seen only a couple of women who were as good as the bottom male tour player,” says short-game teacher Stan Utley, who played 20 years on the PGA Tour and now teaches players on every major circuit. “The skill set just isn’t there.”

Dave Stockton won two majors on the PGA Tour and three on the Champions Tour, and works with Phil Mickelson and Morgan Pressel, among other players. He says that many female tour players don’t have the short memory that confident putters need to succeed. “Emotionally, I think the women are smarter and more honest, but they’re also more fragile,” he says. “Women remember.”

Craig Shankland, a former PGA Teacher of the Year who has played in several majors and has taught LPGA players for 30 years, says good putting is all about adapting. “The best players see the conditions and deal with them,” Shankland says. “I don’t see women doing that as well. The good players see things others don’t, adapt and move on. The others blame things around them.”

Shankland, who is based at LPGA International Golf Club in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Maroon Creek Club in Aspen, Colo., says that in the putting and short-wedge areas, there is no comparison between the tours. “The women don’t hit the ball as close, and they don’t put the same priority on making birdies,” he says. “Putting has become a down-the-list priority, and it shows. Someone who putts well has worked hard at it their whole life.”

“For the guys, there are a lot of players who are really good at an early age. If you’re not shooting under par, you’re not going to win. You have to be ready for that,” says Bob Rotella,vi Ph.D., who has worked with dozens of world-class male and female players in 30 years as a sport psychologist. “For the best girls, the biggest problem is how easy it is for them to win. They’re just not pushed as hard.” The comparative lack of depth on the female side makes it possible for good ball-strikers to win with mediocre putting skills.

“You’re just looking at two populations with different skill sets, and one is more skilled than the other,” says Thomas, who was the USGA’s chief equipment overseer for 26 years.

So no, men and women aren’t equal, not even at putting. So why have them there at all ? All they do is force you to bite your middle class tongue where otherwise you’d speak freely, openly, honestly, and most of all, angrily.vii I dunno about you, but taking the little bruiser out to a men-only private club sounds pretty desirable. He’ll have enough girls to distract him at school.

I’ll buy the land, but who wants to help pitch in for Stanley Thompson’s ghost to design it ? We’ll call the track “Augustus Civis,” at least as a working title.

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  1. As opposed to the eminently more reasonable, more attainable, and more sane equality of opportunity. []
  2. In 2014, IBM CEO Virginia (Ginni) Rometty became the third female member. Black members were allowed in 1990. []
  3. Thompson CupSince 1924, the women-only, Stanley-Thompson-designed Ladies Golf Club of Toronto has stood tall. But speaking of more interesting things, namely Mr. Thompson and yours truly, because my Winnipeg-based colleague and I both spent a number of years at Stanley Thompson designed courses – he at the Glendale in Winnipeg and I at The [Royal] Mayfair in Edmonton* – you might be interested to know that our little start-up has a “Thompson Cup” wherein we compete on a new Thompson-designed masterpiece every time.

    Last year, we played Jasper Park Lodge, I spotted him four a side, and we battled like titans down to the 18th hole when he intentionally, yet unintentionally, blew up. What happened was that he hit a ball he found, one that he knew wasn’t his, because he thought he’d lost his tee ball. Five minutes later, of course, when he unexpectedly found his tee shot, he hit that as well and played out the hole like nothing had happened ; like he’d never hit the other ball. In match play, however, although my competitor didn’t know it, the penalty for hitting a ball that isn’t yours – whether intentionally or not – is an automatic loss of hole, a ruling I was familiar with. Confident that I’d just won the inaugural Thompson Cup, even if I didn’t sink a dramatic, snaking 25-footer on 18 to eke it out, I proceeded to hack out the rest of the hole knowing that it was a fait accompli, and so made a lazy triple-bogey, my highest score of the day in a round of 76, to his original’s ball “bogey.” After some heated words, wherein he thought he’d won and I knew I’d won, we went to the pro shop for a definitive ruling to settle this debate.

    In the end – in no small part because I’d played far, far more competitive golf than my colleague and having experienced first-hand the wrong side of some of the game’s more painful and arcane rulings – I was confirmed to be in the right. But oh, was it ever bittersweet. The 400km drive home from Jasper went well, but it wasn’t without some underlying tension. It wasn’t with the utmost glee that I went to have my winner’s mug engraved the next week [seen at right].

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    *There’s even some conjecture that Mr. Thompson was involved in the design of another course at which I was a member (and 2009 Men’s Club Champion) : The Edmonton Country Club. []

  4. At least in Canada. []
  5. What is golf but a 5-hour gambling session ? []
  6. You’ll recognise Bob from my mega-recommended reading list. []
  7. Golf is catharsis first and foremost, for which it requires a space to yell FUUUCKKKING CUUUNNNT!!!1 at the top of one’s lungs. Women severely curtail this. []