Yup, you've guessed it. Not content with my already impressive credentials as a woman-hater (well, if you believe Edinburgh Eye and Better Nation supremo James Mackenzie), I decided to burnish them still further yesterday by popping along to Muirfield for the first round of the Open. I've never experienced anything like that before (heat in Scotland, I mean) so it was all very exciting.
Not having previously been to a golf tournament, my main concern was that I would unwittingly do something stupid or wrong and find myself being bawled out in Monty-style by a player, caddie or marshal. That fear wasn't entirely unfounded, because I repeatedly thought I was ambling along, minding my own business, only to discover I was actually in the middle of a fairway or on the edge of a green. Most of the time it was impossible to tell who was the unfortunate target of the shrieks of indignation, although on the one occasion that I thought it might well be me, it was (to my eternal shame) a Scottish player I was potentially distracting. Fortunately, Martin Laird recovered his composure sufficiently to put together a below-par round, and I see that he has done well again today. It's probably too much to hope that he's a potential winner, but it's good to know that a Scot can at least still be competitive in majors. Reading his back-story, though, it's slightly sad to find that he's another example of a Scottish sportsman like Andy Murray who had to go abroad at a young age to achieve great things.
There's obviously some logic to the draconian rules that the marshals enforce, but it does lead to an unfortunate fixed setting of "aggressive official". Even the chap who "welcomed" us to the course started by screaming "WE WANT YOU TO ENJOY YOURSELVES TODAY", but thankfully refrained from adding "OR YOU WILL BE EXECUTED". I felt a bit sorry for a Spanish guy with very poor English, who misunderstood an instruction to put his camera away, and found himself being charged up to in nightclub bouncer style by a marshal, who menacingly whispered in his ear : "I appreciate it may be silent, but if you use that everyone else will follow your example, so it needs to go away now". Given the circumstances, I think "do you speak English?" might possibly have borne more fruit than the War and Peace edition of "why cameras are banned".
The only mention I heard of the male-only issue was on the train, when a young Scottish guy asked an Irish woman what she thought of it. "That's golf," she replied. Emboldened, the man complained that "nobody ever says anything about the all-women clubs". Well, yes, but that's probably because the all-women clubs were predominantly founded to compensate for the existence of all-male clubs. If that hadn't been the case, they certainly would be legitimate targets for criticism, just as the bizarre Women's Prize for Fiction is.
As a final thought, the woman added : "I watch women at my own club, most of them don't even know the etiquette, it's an embarrassment". Spurious anecdotal justifications for discriminating against an entire gender - don't you just love them? Typical bloody redhead.