Club Championships should be just that; an opportunity for everyone to compete, not just the men. What is the format of the Club Championships at your club? 

Golf Club Championships

Club Championships should be just that; an opportunity for everyone to compete, not just the men. What is the format of the Club Championships at your club?

By Charlotte Ibbetson

Traditionally, the women’s club championship at my former home club has been played as a match play event; individual scratch matches over the course of a few months. Women played, won, and lost matches without anyone really even noticing until a new name was etched in gold on the wooden board hidden in the clubhouse. In stark contrast, the men play a one-day, 36-hole championship for the most coveted trophy at the club. Supporters lined the fairways, crowded the greens and an evening of festivities always followed.

One year I asked if I could play. I had one of the lowest handicaps at the club, and it was, after all, called the Club Championships. After a lot of questions, ums, and ahs from the committee, the decision was in: the tournament would be renamed the Men’s Championship. Hmmm.

Fortunately, that didn’t last long, and the following year I was in, this time with the support of a few more members, both men and women. I was told I could compete, but I’d have to play from the championship tees. If I wanted to play with the men, they said, it was only fair. So that’s what I did. I held my own and competed, literally side by side with the men. I enjoyed it, and it’s set a precedent for the championships ever since, but could I really compete given the 1,000+ yards added to the course? Absolutely not.

I’m not sure if the club will ever get to a point where there is just one club championship, and honestly, I don’t know if that’s even something that the majority of the women would want. They certainly deserve to be a part of the celebrations though, at the very least with a men’s and women’s championship on the same day. The Club Championships should be a day when everyone comes together to celebrate the best players at the club, not just the best men.

Earlier this year, Women & Golf columnist Naga Munchetty wrote about her experience of Club Championships:

“At my club it’s been changed to a two-day event instead of 36 holes in a day. While debating this with a fellow golfer, he argued that playing off the back tees for men “was a real test but he could see that for the women, 36 holes off their tees would be much more manageable.” As I raised my eyebrows and suggested that golf isn’t all about distance, I could also feel the temperature of my blood rising to boiling point. I am sick of golfers assuming that the forward/red/ladies tees (whatever they are called where you are) somehow denote a lesser course compared to the “men’s” tees. Men are generally physically stronger than women - that’s not sexist, that’s biology and until evolution changes that, then our average hitting distance will be less than the average man.”

“The skills of chipping, putting, accuracy and mental strength are gender-neutral.”

“Women need to think and plot their way around a course as much as men, and practise as much to be good at this blasted game. How dare you imply that our round of golf is less “testing.” When this man whined about having to hit a long iron or wood into a par-4 when playing off the back tees, my cry of “welcome to our world” was pretty much met with waffle. He’s not going to change his mind - but men, if you are reading this - just imagine if you had to rely on fairway woods and long irons as much as we do - then tell me “our” course isn’t a test.”

Is it that women’s golf isn’t seen as being as much of a test compared to men’s? If that’s the case, I’d suggest we start planning a few mixed tournaments from the red tees and see how the scores fare then …

What do you think? What is the format of the Club Championships at your golf club? Email [email protected] to share your thoughts.


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