Royal club appoints woman as captain17th January, 2014 by Tania Longmire
A woman has been appointed captain of a royal golf club for the first time in British history.
Anthea Winn, who will be captain of Royal Ascot Golf Club in Berkshire, believes her appointment will have a positive effect on the industry following a year of negative headlines.
There are 34 royal golf clubs in the United Kingdom – clubs that have received royal patronage from a member of the royal family. Royal Ascot has twice been granted the patronage, first in 1887 by Queen Victoria, and then again in 1977 by Queen Elizabeth II.
Winn, the former captain of Sunningdale Ladies’ Golf Club, said that she thinks she will be the first of many.
“Someone has to be the first but I am sure I will not be last by any means,” she said.
“I think it will have a positive effect on other golf clubs within the county.”
The 2013 Open was dominated by negative headlines about its host, Muirfield, which does not allow women to be members. The year ended with the Royal Burgess Golfing Society of Edinburgh voting to continue excluding women from joining the club.
Recently a global Hindu group even launched an attack on Muirfield. The Universal Society of Hinduism’s president, Rajan Zed, said that the club’s men-only policy was “highly inappropriate, immoral and archaic”.
Zed is quoted as saying that Muirfield should be “ashamed and embarrassed” of its policy and that The R&A should not stage Open Championships at the venue until it allowed women to join the club.
Zed even indicated that the Church of Scotland should persuade Muirfield to change the policy.
It is not known why Zed picked Muirfield to launch the attack; there are believed to be more than 20 single-sex golf clubs in Britain, three of which are currently Open venues.
According to Winn, her appointment, which also comes as Carnoustie has appointed Pat Sawers to be its chair, the first time a woman has ever held the position, could redress the balance.
“It is particularly relevant today especially considering the coverage of Muirfield and their policy on ladies at the 2013 Open. Rightly or wrongly they, and The R&A, got some terrible PR out of the whole thing and came across as misogynistic,” she said.
The appointment also comes days after a golf club won a case of sexual discrimination made by a former employee.
Former stewardess Lilly Lawley told an employment tribunal that male members of Dartmouth Golf Club in the Midlands spread rumours of a rodent problem at the club in order to drive her out.
However, judge David Goodier said he accepted the club’s claim that the rumour was “nothing more than a joke” and rejected her compensation claims.