Golf. Designed by men for just men?

A mystery is solved. Why can men be sexist about sport and golf in particular? It was  something I had wondered about for years. Was it a reflection of the public schools that had educated so many stalwarts of golf in this country? Segregated from the opposite sex at boarding school perhaps they sought to recreate this female free haven at their clubs?

But there is more to it than this. When I rediscovered an old book ‘Men are from Mars Women are from Venus’ I finally understood why it is that men rule planet golf.

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The thought of this book is that men and women don’t understand each other because they come from different planets speaking different languages. Their values, motivations and ways of communicating are so different. See how this explains why golf is like it is.

MEN (MARTIANS) VALUE EFFICIENCY, PROBLEM SOLVING AND ACHIEVEMENT

Golf is therefore the ultimate Martian game. Get from point A to point B in the least number of strokes solving problems along the way and achieving a score 18 times in a row. What a satisfying way for a Martian to spend his time.

WOMEN (VENUSIANS) VALUE TALKING, BEAUTY AND BONDING WITH OTHERS

How do women bond? By talking to each other. This is dangerous to the game. Too much talking leads to slow play, the curse of golf. While men like to focus on the job in hand, women expand their experience. They take in the pretty scenery, walk slower to look at it and hold up those agitated Martians on the tee behind. They are noisy. The girly shrieks as the putt drops breaks the silence of the man’s ‘cave’.

Many Venusians find golf boring. Part of the Martian code of efficiency says if something works, repeat it. Thus the monotony of stadium golf courses and golf pros who wear a uniform of grey. Venusians are drawn to beautiful golf courses – TV ratings go up for Pebble Beach and Augusta because more women are finding the golf appealing to watch. As for clubhouses that great pile of granite at St Andrews is inherently Martian. No wonder women were kept from entering its portals for so long.

MARTIANS GAIN POWER BY SHOWING VENUSIANS HOW STRONG THEY ARE

This is probably why men value the power of the long drive above being able to chip and putt well. Why practice these things, it’s the big drive that enhances masculinity. While it’s fine for a woman to accompany a man to the driving range to admire how strong he is, the golf course is different. It is scary. Part of the Martian Code says “Dont let a woman see your weaknesses”, a good reason to discourage women from sticking around. Golf can humiliate in a way no other sport can. Does a man want a woman to see him top or slice a ball? No way. It’s too much of a risk having women around.

MARTIANS TEND TO CONTROL THEIR EMOTIONS

Women pro golfers sometimes cry at injustices, but men pros tend to mask their feelings, even if their guts have just been ripped out on the course. When Sam Torrance said to a TV camera “I’ve been crying since I came off the last tee and I really don’t give a shit” this was not an abberation. He was just about to hole the putt which won the Ryder Cup for Europe for the first time in 27 years and many European Martians cried with him. Jason Day’s tears at winning the PGA Championship last month didn’t break the Martian code. Such tears in victory are acceptable, though embarassing and Jason did apologise for them.

VENUSIANS – DON’T TELL A MAN WHAT TO DO

If a woman tries to help a man, she weakens him. Hence the power struggles that undermine Mixed Foursomes. The worst possible thing a woman can do on a golf course is to tell a man how to play a recovery shot. If she does, he will sulk. There’s only one way. The woman plays her shot (and then says nothing when he complains where she’s put him). He solves the problem. The golden rule is – say nothing.

WHEN A MAN IS STRESSED OUT HE GOES TO HIS ‘CAVE‘.

This is a big reason why women are unpopular in golf. The golf club is the perfect ‘cave’ for a man to escape from the pressures of the real world. This is why many clubs are private – they’re an alternative reality that can be controlled by rules of admission. They are an escape hatch from real life where a man can re-group before going back into the fray, A man’s ‘cave’ is also a mental act of withdrawal. When a man has a problem or suffers a defeat he will withdraw until he has come to terms with it or found a solution to it. This is why some professional golfers find marriage hard. They will withdraw from their wives following a defeat. This isn’t a rejection of the Venusian, she just doesn’t come into the problem solving equation.

ON MARS THE BATTLE IS IMPORTANT

Golf is a battle, against one’s self, the mind, the rules and others. Women, not being warriors by nature are often seconded to secondary duties at the golf club. After a top Amateur championship a parade of women lined up behind the prize giving ceremony. “What are all these women doing here?” asked one male spectator to another. “Well” came the reply “Somebody’s got to make the tea when it’s all over”.

MARTIANS VALUE RULES AND ORDER

This means committees. Golf clubs thrive on them. But even more than this Martians love rules, infringements, penalties, relief, provisionals, moveable, immovable, lift, clean, place and drop. Rules and committees intimidate and conduse the average Venusians because they don’t value such things so highly.

VENUSIANS WORRY – MARTIANS SOLVE PROBLEMS

The challenge of golf is that it’s a series of problems to be solved and a Martian likes nothing better. Venusians on the other hand worry “Oh no. How will I ever reach that par five? My score is getting bigger and bigger. If I drop another shot my handicap will go up. Why am I so useless at this stupid game? Mr Fix-It’s attitude is – why get upset about something that may not happen? If it does happen, let’s solve it.

ON MARS SEX IS EVERYTHING

Therefore how can Martians concentrate on golf when there are women around to distract them? The only answer is to make life in golf so uncomfortable for them that they give up and go away.

So where does this leave the women who love golf? There must be more than aiming to be the one who dashes out onto the 18th green with a wink and a smile squealing “Two eagles, great job!” To stand on tippy toes and kiss the great golfing god every time he holes a big putt is not most Venusians idea of a filfilling existence.

When I play golf it’s just me and the ball. I lose consciousness and I’m only reminded that I’m female if my appendages get in the way of my downswing. So to deal with this opposition, in my case since the age of seven, is a real pain for us women.

There is always the Oxford and Cambridge Golf Society’s solution. The first time a woman, Fiona Macdonald, became eligible to play in the President’s Putter they awarded her the status of ‘honorary man’. If women play like Martians on the golf course why should they be discriminated against? It’s not our fault that we were born on the wrong planet for golf.

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My article was first published in Golf International magazine.

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