Women may be banned from being members at the course it is being held – but the fairer sex are more than represented in the coverage of this year’s Open tournament from Scotland, the BBC insists with scores of women working on its production.
The BBC began its coverage of the flagship event at Muirfield in Edinburgh today with Hazel Irvine as the presenter, Maureen Madill as an on-course commentator and Naga Munchetty a reporter. Alison Mitchell is commentating for Radio 5 live with many women who work in the production team in other roles.
A BBC source told RadioTimes.com that “there are scores of women working for us on the Open” and said it would be “absurd” to think that they would be discriminated against at the event.
A spokeswoman added: “The BBC has a strong representation of women across its golf coverage and each are there on their merit as experienced presenters, commentators and reporters.”
The assertion comes as many outside the BBC but in the golf world reacted with incredulity to the claim by culture secretary Maria Miller that she will not be attending the Open this year.
A source from golf’s governing body, the R & A which organises the Open, said that a culture secretary never normally attends the event and has insisted that she has never notified them of their decision not to attend.
“She did not write to us, she chose to make the claim through the newspapers, which doesn’t seem like good manners. We very rarely have the culture secretary come and she has never been,” said the source.
Miller revealed this week that she is to boycott the Open golf championship because it is being held at the Muirfield club, which refuses to admit women members.
She also had the backing of Prime Minister David Cameron. Today his spokesman said Mr Cameron had a “great deal of sympathy” with the view that such policies “look more to the past than they do to the future”.
However the R & A is said to be furious about the story, insisting that women are treated equally at the Open and the course, and saying that the private cub merely forbid women being members in common with many gender only clubs.
The source noted that there are more women-only golf clubs in the UK than men only, adding: “Women are allowed in the clubhouse any time – and the reality is that there are more women only golf clubs in the UK than men only. The whole thing is absurd and there is so much misinformation.”