'Not all clubs are snobby and unwelcoming'

The Scoop

Pauline Rigby, president of Anglesey Golf Club, argues that not all clubs are full of strict dress codes and archaic rules

I was interested to read the article in the October issue of Lady Golfer that touched on the ‘covert snobbery‘ that still exists in golf clubs.

We golfers are all concerned about dwindling numbers, but I would like to respond to the points in the feature by putting an opposite view.  Our small but historic Anglesey Golf Club, has a very welcoming atmosphere and isn’t snobbish at all.

We love new members 

We are actively recruiting and have no barriers or formalities. We invite people to come in, have a look round and meet a few new friends over a drink.

This is especially important with players who are new to golf. We were all beginners once, so it is very important to make people feel at ease with the mysteries of the game and play a few holes with them.

Everyone is equal

All our members are equal. There are no ‘no go’ areas and in fact I have just been given the post of Golf Club President, not ‘Lady President’. I feel this is an honour, not just as a woman but because the main committee have trusted me as a person to represent the club.

Our main committee of about 10 people also has five women on there, another tick!

Men, women and juniors can play on any day of the week and through the weekend if tee times are available. We have also got a designated 9 holes for people who want to fit in a short game. We are also trying to encourage a few more fun and mixed games.

Back in the day, member Gladys Ravenscroft, who was the sister of one of our founders, won the 1912 British Ladies Amateur at Turnberry in Scotland. Then in 1913 she travelled to Wilmington, Delaware to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur.  She was the second competitor ever to simultaneously hold both the American and British titles.

We also found out that Dr Frank Stableford, yes the one that gave the name to the Stableford format, was a member here for seven years in the 1920’s. He served on our committee and wouldn’t join some clubs because they didn’t allow lady members. We are very proud of our long history of equality.

Juniors are the future

Without juniors there is no future in golf. Anyone under 18 enjoys free membership and we make them feel very comfortable in the club.

Golf is a brilliant sport for juniors and they learn very quickly; much faster than we do! It involves them spending considerable amounts of time in the fresh air, keeps them out of trouble, and means that they are taking part in a form of exercise that comes with far less risk of injury than many contact sports.

Just dress practically

Golf doesn’t actually require much in the way of specific clothing, except for a suitable pair of shoes with grip and clothes that are appropriate for the weather.

As for dress codes, we’re flexible. Dirty jeans and sleeveless tops would mainly be a no, but if a member has volunteered to do some jobs on a hot day and fancies a pint afterwards, I wouldn’t say, ‘thanks for all your efforts but you can’t come in’.

I was officiating at an inter County Match last year. The day was beautiful and warm and my husband, who is a keen golfer, came with me. We were going on after the match to visit family, so he wasn’t dressed for golf but as a spectator he was wearing tailored shorts and leather deck shoes, which he does not wear with socks. As a result he was not allowed in any part of the clubhouse and even during our match meal he was told to sit outside. Luckily it was a warm day but I considered their attitude just plain rude. What if it had been cold outside?

We have moved with the times

The atmosphere at our club is warm and welcoming and we have excellent catering, which non-members are always encouraged to come and enjoy.

We are a small club with a few sheep on our excellent links course, but I think we have made all the right decisions over the past century.

As even the R&A are planning changes to modernise the game, I think that other clubs should think about making similar changes.

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