Mel Reid

 

It’s not the first time that golf has been accused of favouring male players over female, and sadly it probably won’t be the last.

With our choices for evening entertainment pretty limited at the moment, we’d be surprised if you’d missed out on the news that two big golf charity events were televised recently: the Taylormade Driving Relief and the Match II.

In particular Driving Relief, starring Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff, attracted a lot of attention.

The first televised live golf in two months ticked all the boxes: it had a high-profile line up of huge stars, banter (although the quality was questionable at times) and even a cameo from Donald Trump (obviously).

It also raised over $5.5 million for COVID-19 relief efforts, which was an amazing achievement whichever way you look at it.

However, it was hard to ignore the fact that it didn’t include a single female player. Many took to Twitter to speak out about the fact that it further promoted the inequality between the men and women’s game; a sad aspect most of us are desperate to stamp out.

But the comments that caused the biggest stir came from Solheim Cup player and British golfing super star Mel Reid.

She said: “Yet again, today we show the disparity between men’s and women’s golf.

“What an opportunity golf has let slip once again, to represent equality.”

 Mel Reid

It certainly seems ironic that at a time when so much effort is being put into the women’s game, including a five-year commitment from R&A to grow this area of the sport, the opportunity to include a mixed field wasn’t taken up.

It’s worth noting of course that the line-up was mostly dictated by the players' proximity to Seminole, but we think the most worrying aspect of the situation is the backlash Mel received, and probably is still receiving, for her reasoned comments.

While other stars such as Tiger Woods’ cousin Cheyenne Woods and GOLFTV presenter Henni Zuel echoed similar feelings, others seemed angry and almost offended at her suggestion that female players should have been included too.

Speaking to the Telegraph Mel said: “I couldn’t believe the comments I was getting. It was disgusting, people took [what I said] completely out of context.

"All I was saying was it would have been pretty cool if you would have got a couple of the girls involved [to] really bring golf back to TV, and I think it was an opportunity missed.”

Coming across as eloquent and intelligent as always, Ladies European Tour player Meghan McLaren also spoke to the publication.

Prompting us to reflect on the bigger issues, she pointed out that competitive action in golf actually returned three days before the TaylorMade charity event, with the Korean LPGA Championship teeing off on Thursday May 14.

"It just reiterates the whole idea that women's golf doesn't exist or doesn't matter," MacLaren said. "South Korea is a really interesting case study because women's golf is far more popular there than men's golf. But that's in part because of the visibility and investment that's gone in over the years.

"The point I made was it would be nice if one day in the future, something like the TaylorMade Driving Relief event just happens and there are women there just because they’re considered equal. It would be nice to be in a world where that was kind of normal."

However, with mixed tournaments such as the Jordan Mixed Open and the GolfSixes becoming more common place, plus the BBC’s fantastic promotion of women’s sports such as football, the more positive amongst us might like to think that it is a least becoming more normal than it used to be.

That the world is increasingly recognising the worth and entertainment value of mixed competitions and female athletes, and that things are changing for the better.

Hopefully one day there won’t be a need for these types of discussions.

So tell us - do you think it would have been nice to see some women included in these recent events?

Are we still a depressingly long way from achieving equality in the world of golf, or are we getting there slowly but surely?

Get in touch and let us know.

Photograph: Getty Images

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