The women's British Open is in progress and the big news of course is...well, the course. The women are playing at the famed Old Course at St. Andrews. This is the first professional women's event at the course where women are usually forbidden. Yes, this weekend marks the first time women will be allowed into the clubhouse. In the past the men-only establishment made sure everyone knew who was permitted entry by posting the sign "No dogs, no women." Lovely.
Anyone upset at the fact that every other weekend of the year even if the sign isn't there the effect is the same? Seems not. All the women interviewed see it as this wonderful thing for women's golf. From Annika Sorenstam (who was tied for 4th in the second round at the time of this posting) and Paula Creamer to officials of the Ladies' Golf Union all see this weekend's event as a sign that the times are changing, that women's golf is getting greater respect.
It's possible to read this weekend as a sign that the keepers of one of the oldest golf courses has a modicum of respect for the best female golfers in the world. But they have not come out and said they plan on changing their male-only entrance policy. They get a lot of good publicity for doing very little.
I thought at least a few of the LPGA players would mention something about what the club members think of women generally (not to mention people of color and those who cannot even fathom the outrageous fees). But no. The only dissatisfaction seems to be from players who are frustrated by the course and the weather in England.
Someone send Billie Jean King over there to give these women a little consciousness raising. She could start by reminding them that the winner of the tournament makes $300,000 (US). The winner of the men's British Open* this year got $1.5 million.
*Prize money is not dependent on the course but reflects the larger golf culture which values the men's game more than the women's, as evidenced by St. Andrews' sex-specific entrance requirement.