Laws designed to ensure gender equality on the golf course have “buggered up the game” according to veteran BBC broadcaster Peter Alliss.
The golf commentator, who will be covering the US Masters on the BBC this year, says that legislation to phase out restrictions for women on the use of club facilities have caused a drop in interest for female members.
“I’m told the Ladies Golf Union has lost 150,000 members since equality for women came in,” Alliss told Radio Times. “Hundreds of women have left golf clubs because they’ve gone from paying half fare to full fare. It’s caused mayhem.
“All of the wives of members at these clubs could have used the facilities for free. When I was at Muirfield a couple of years ago talking to a few of the lady members, I said, ‘What about this equality? You must be happy about that?’ ‘God no,’ they said. ‘We can come here and do what we like, we can play golf and don’t pay anything.’
“The equality thing is a great part of golf. Equality for women: a few people battled away to get it, they got it, and they have buggered up the game for a lot of people.”
The LGU have challenged Alliss’s remarks, saying that his figures are incorrect. “I think he’s speaking for a very small minority, probably the older lady golfer,” finance director Sam Burton told the Telegraph. “The clubs he’s referring to where the wife just got to play because her husband was a member – I don’t know any such clubs. People who are serious about their golf wouldn’t really see that as acceptable.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Alliss expressed his disappointment that the BBC had lost live rights to the Open Championship, and hit back at critics of his commentary style.
Read the full interview with Peter Alliss in the new issue of Radio Times magazine, in shops and available on the Apple Newsstand from Tuesday 7th April