In Golf, Whites Only Need Apply

Eric AxleyContributor IAugust 17, 2010

14 Apr 1995: Calvin Peete directs the ball with body english during the PGA Senior Championship at the National Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
J.D. Cuban/Getty Images

Discrimination is still alive and well in golf. Sure, many clubs that host professional events have dressed up the pig, but it's still a pig.

There are still no female members at Augusta National. The famed club does have six black members out of 300.

If you do the math, you will find that is two percent of the membership. That is hardly representative of the ethnic diversity of the United States and especially Georgia.

Several years ago the PGA of America took the stance that they would not hold tournaments at venues that discriminated against blacks. Specifically they indicated that they would not hold tournaments that discriminated against people because of their race.

They said nothing about gender. There are no rules that I know of in which all-male clubs cannot hold a PGA tour event.

In 1990, when the PGA instituted the directive, several clubs decided that the rules were too restrictive and decided they would rather not host PGA tour events rather than allow members of color.Β 

It’s not fair to pick on just Augusta National. That is one club. I challenge you to go to any country club where there is a racial mix in the area.

The challenge from me is serious, as most country clubs are begging for members these days. Go up to the front door and tell them you are interested in membership some Saturday morning. You will find some integrated clubs, but I fear that as you walk around most clubs, the faces will be Caucasian. In fact, the majority will be white men.

As you stroll through the club, you may also want to check off the number of people that are Muslim. It’s hard to identify any good golfers in the world right now that are of the Muslim faith. The only one that comes to mind is Vijay Singh. Others may practice the religion but are afraid to proclaim their faith for fear of discriminate retribution.

Females are the majority sex in the world, yet they make up a small percentage of country club membership. The numbers get even worse when you look at the race of the women. Asian golfers are extremely well represented, but there are few African-American female golfers on the LPGA Tour or the European LPGA Tour.

Several years ago a Time magazine article indicated that industry experts estimate that three-quarters of the nation's 5,232 private golf and country clubs have no black members. The study also found that of 74 private country clubs in the Chicago area, only 10 said that they had black members, and only 26 enrolled women.

What are the reasons? Is it because the leadership of clubs has dictated this via written or unwritten rules? Maybe it's because these places started out in a time when blacks did not have the economic clout to be included, and it's just been white members proposing their own circle of white friends for membership.Β 

No matter how you look at it, there still seems to be a level of discrimination in golf today.