When women's groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and the media came down hard on Southern Dunes Golf Club, a private, Fred Couples-designed course near Phoenix, for permitting only men on its fairways, I wondered: How come no one complains about all the other clubs (a few phone calls turned up more than 20 in the U.S.) where women are not welcome? Here are my top 10 men-only clubs, ranked by their level of male chauvinism.
1. Burning Tree
Opened in 1922 and only 10 miles from the White House, the club was a favorite of presidents Nixon, Ford and Bush Sr. Burning Tree has never had a woman guest player, not even Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who's a pretty good golfer. Women are allowed on the grounds once a year—to buy Christmas gifts in the pro shop.
2. Bob O'Link
Highland Park, Ill.
Wives may drop off their husbands but aren't permitted to get out of the car. There's no dress code at the Bob, where members have been known to play in only their shorts and shoes.
3. Preston Trail
The club doesn't take phone calls from women and has two unwritten rules (created specifically to restrain member Mickey Mantle): No driving a cart inside the leather and no nude dining.
4. Pine Valley
When Jack Nicklaus played here on his honeymoon, his bride, Barbara, had to drive around the perimeter of the property to catch a glimpse of him. Pine Valley has made some strides. It now permits women to play—on Sundays after 3 p.m.
When a camera crew from CNNSI tried to interview Butch Harmon, the pro at the time, a female producer was stopped at the front gate and then escorted to a rear entrance. Tiger Woods wore a shirt bearing the Lochinvar logo when he won the 1996 U.S. Amateur.
6. Garden City
Garden City, N.Y.
The venue for the 1902 U.S. Open and many early U.S. Amateurs, Garden City permits women on the back patio for receptions and on the course to view tournaments, but doesn't allow them to get too comfortable. There is only one ladies' room, and it's in the pro shop.
The club was used for U.S. Open sectional qualifying until the USGA got religion in the wake of the Shoal Creek scandal of 1990. Jerry O'Neil, a former member who wrote a $1.6 million check (it's framed and hanging in the clubhouse) to build the club, ruled Sharon for years and is said to have rejected emergency medical equipment on the premises by saying, "Not as long as we have a waiting list."
8. Wolf Creek
No women allowed, though they can drop off their spouses in the parking lot. Nevertheless, Tour players Woody Austin, Matt Gogel, Tom Pernice and Tom Watson are regulars, as was baseball Hall of Famer George Brett.
9. Bear Creek
Owner Leo Bradley makes no bones about it: "We cater to half the family." Bear Creek has hosted Colorado PGA Section events, but the club will probably drop out of the rotation because two woman pros entered a Colorado section tournament this year at another course.