Bigotry call against 50 Scottish golf clubs
A charity that tackles religious bigotry has said that about 50 unnamed golf clubs in Scotland are committing ‘acts of discrimination’ against golfers due to their religious beliefs.
Glaswegian organisation Nil by Mouth, which receives Scottish government funding and was set up in the 1990s following the murder of a 15-year-old boy after he attended a football match featuring Glasgow Celtic, has said it has received information about sectarianism in Scottish golf clubs about once a week for the last four years.
It has offered to provide free sectarian awareness training to 50 golf clubs.
Nil by Mouth campaign director Dave Scott said: “Sectarian attitudes don’t just manifest themselves through acts of violence and songs, but also through quiet acts of discrimination and attitudes within organisations.
“Golf clubs play an important commercial, social and sporting role in our communities.
“Participants in our workshops often tell us that certain clubs are perceived as being less than enthusiastic about welcoming members from certain religious cultures or traditions.
“That’s why we are contacting golf clubs right across west central Scotland to make them aware they can benefit, at no cost, from this project.
“We hope this offer will help chase any lingering sectarian attitudes out of the shadows.”
Allegations the charity has received range from clubhouse jokes about schooling to claims people from certain backgrounds have been denied positions on club teams, and had their membership applications delayed.
There are approximately 600 golf clubs in Scotland, meaning that about one in 12 have been accused of displaying attitudes steeped in bigotry.
One golfer told heraldscotland: “You still hear jokes about schools, and decades after my father joined a Lanarkshire club, people say ‘how were you allowed to join here?’.
“Even on very prestigious courses on the east coast there’s a tangible ‘them and us’ in the clubhouse.”
A spokesman for heraldscotland said: “Nobody is saying that all or even most golf clubs have a problem with sectarianism. But it would be a huge mistake to think the issue only affects two big Glasgow football clubs, and not to acknowledge some cling to an outdated culture.
“That is a culture in which making jokes about someone’s background, or the school they went to, is acceptable, as is treating someone as a perpetual ‘new’ member because of their religion. Such behaviour is far from endemic in golf clubs. But four years of accumulated evidence gathered by Nil By Mouth in the course of its work suggest it is not uncommon.
“Golf clubs are a singularly visible manifestation of upwardly mobile, middle-class Scotland. If an ‘us and them’ atmosphere is perpetuated on courses and in clubhouses, that is a problem.
“The danger is the golf clubs most in need of guidance on this issue will be the ones least likely to take up Nil By Mouth’s offer.”
In 2012 two leading Northern Irish politicians stated that sectarianism was rife in the country’s golf clubs, although this was refuted by the Golfing Union of Ireland.