Ladies | Iain Carter

Ladies | Iain Carter

It is time to drum ladies out of the game of golf. There, I’ve said it and I have never been more convinced that I am correct in this assertion.

I’ve got your attention as well.

But it should be stressed that I have not regressed into a gin swilling retired colonel, appalled at the notion of women playing a man’s game such as golf.

“Tend the flowers, but please do not enter the main bar - there’s a good thing.” You know the sort we are discussing. Thankfully they are a dying breed and I’m not looking to bolster their diminishing numbers.

No, my beef is with the word “ladies”, not the female golfers who get branded as such. I hate its enduring use in the game of golf.  

These are great times for women’s sport. The profile has never been higher and recognising and encouraging female participation is a big part of modern society. 

But the word “ladies” is old fashioned. These days it is mainly used only in conjunction with “gentlemen” and usually by a speaker at the start of an evening’s entertainment or to distinguish who should use which toilets.

That is, apart from in the game of golf where we have ladies sections, tees, competitions, start-times and so on.  

Last week the Ladies European Tour (there we go again) unveiled a significantly bolstered schedule.  It includes a dozen tournaments with “ladies” in the title, teeing off with next month’s Australian Ladies Classic. 

Now, this maybe just me and you might not think it important, but it feels as though such terminology is from the dark ages. It is not fitting for a sport looking to attract younger and more diverse audiences. 

It is time to get with the programme - as the kids might say. In football Chelsea Ladies are now Chelsea’s women’s team to reflect “a modern view on language and equality”. 

As goalkeeper Carly Telford told the Daily Telegraph, “When I think of 'ladies' I do think of afternoon tea somewhere.” She added: “You wouldn't call it 'Chelsea gentlemen', so why would you call us ladies?” 

Last week the LET actually discussed this topic at their first board meeting in conjunction with their new partners, the LPGA and the men’s European Tour. The feeling among the women present was that it did not matter much.

They should think again and it is a shame the R&A, who are also in partnership with the LET were not present at that inaugural meeting.  

Since taking over the Ladies Golf Union, the St Andrews based governing body is largely expunging the word “ladies” from its projects. Their blueprint is the Women in Golf Charter and they run the Women’s British Open.

That most traditional of golf organistations, the R&A, is actually leading on this issue and, had they been there, they may have contributed a more enlightened view during that LET board meeting. 

People will scoff and say these are semantics that do not matter much. Within the golfing village, it probably does not make much difference - we know how things work and for many from both genders the use of the L word would not jar at all.

But if we want the village to grow into a town, then the sport has to be attractive to wider constituencies. It does not pay to be seen as outdated and old fashioned.

Golf already suffers too much in that regard. People are put off this the greatest of games because of perceptions fuelled by dress codes and club rules unfathomable to those less familiar with golfing ways.

So here would be a small but significant step into the 21st century. Address sportswomen as such and not with a word from a bygone age.

As I say, it could just be me. But I’m convinced it is time to kick ladies out of the game.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.