Was happily listening to the new Crash Course pod on Pine Valley. Following along the on google earth sorting out which amazing after amazing holes they were talking about. Then, right at the end as @Soly was talking about the vibe of the course - something struck me when he said it’s the “true guy’s getaway hang”. For some reason, that triggered me to think: “uh oh, is this a male only club?” It is, with females only allowed to be invited as guests on Sundays.
This just had me feeling really annoyed.
Augusta and places like Muirfield got (I think rightly) criticized for this practice in their membership - which while technically legal, seems quite wrong. Both have since changed, but Pine Valley has not. At places like Augusta it has been barely a generation where the same arguments applied to not allowing black members, for example. But such exclusivity to men vs women still seems socially acceptable enough in some circles, even justified, or good.
There is, of course, reason in some “private club” settings for male or female only memberships, where sex or gender is part of the point - say the boy or girl scouts, fraternities/sororities, etc. I have yet to see a good argument why golf could even come remotely close to being justified in exclusion on the basis of sex (or any other immutable characteristic). Some would say “it’s complicated” for private clubs like golf courses, but I disagree. Replace “women” with “jewish” or “black” or “openly gay” and we’re (also) in a very dark place - it’s just that those forms of discrimination became less socially acceptable sooner. I have to question in a setting like a golf club why male members wouldn’t want female members at all? I too like having “guy hangs” with my friends, but it seems completely different to institutionalize it in membership vs the truly voluntary nature of say grabbing a table to hang with guy friends at the club.
This brings me to NLU. I know the group is making efforts recognizing and making space for women in a sport and the sport’s culture, which is very male dominated. That is fantastic. Which, I suppose begs the question of how should it potentially address talking about a place like Pine Valley? Yeah, the golf is so fucking good, and the “hang” is probably fun too - but is it a blind spot to simply not even address about something like its male-only membership. And not only that, dare I say, even highlight its male-only hang qualities?
Now, I am not saying Soly or NLU is sexist in any way, shape or form. As it’s been said in recent pods in light of current discussions about race, it’s “not enough simply to be not racist” - it’s important to be anti-racist. In a sport culture that struggles with inclusiveness, including of women - is it enough to just not be sexist, but in fact to be anti-sexist? Is an extremely low-hanging fruit of being anti-sexist include calling out places like Pine Valley, which it chose to highlight in something like Crash Course? I know the focus is the golf course, sure, but the episode did venture in discussion on the culture of the place, too. Admittedly, left a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth, and compelled me to raise it here.
Now, perhaps some feel it is completely justifiable for a private club to have such exclusive membership practices - also an argument I’d like to hear out. Maybe, I’m wrong.