To change its public image, which was died-in-the-tweed conservative, the LGU began retiring some of its old officials. There was, for instance, the case of "Ma" Beddows, 80, who played on her county golf team until last year. She did not compete in this year's Scottish championship because she felt her game was off at the time, but she is making plans to challenge again in 1969. Ma played for years for Britain on international teams and, when she got to be 62 or so, someone suggested she might retire. She burst into tears but eventually consented. Not long afterward, she broke down in emotion on the 1st tee of a championship in England. This would be the last time she would represent Britain, she sobbed. Her opponent in the match tried unsuccessfully to comfort her. Ma Beddows won the match. The scene was repeated several times and Ma, having put the competition off its game, won each match. Only then did the young golfers' hearts harden to the fact that tears can be as useful as a firm midiron to the pin.
There have been other occasions when youth has had a hard time understanding the wisdom of old LGU types. A few years ago, perhaps to chip away at the generation gap, the LGU hired as its secretary a 53-year-old Australian, Miss Katherine Hannay. Miss Hannay is a bluff, affable, white-haired lady and a former Queensland champion. She taught herself to play golf on her father's sheep station, using a full-length mirror and a Byron Nelson instructional book. During the war she headed a staff of 1,000 that fed 15,000 troops stationed in Sydney, and this experience serves her well in handling the skirmishes between the LGU and the young golfers.
One of these concerned the Curtis Cup uniforms two years ago. The team, when it returned from America, met with LGU officials at Sunningdale and respectfully requested that the union pay for the uniforms they had worn in the matches. An LGU director declared that the suggestion of the players was "absolutely Bolshevik." Finally, a compromise settlement was reached.
There are still some LGU officials who believe a woman golfer is no good once she marries. "They are never the same," one grande dame remarked before last June's Curtis Cup matches, but so harsh an attitude was perhaps understandable. The LGU had been forced to drop five players from the team that went to the previous cup because they had put sex before golf. Two had recently had babies, another expected one, a fourth had just been married and the fifth was engaged and had lost almost 30 pounds to please her beau. The LGU noted that her vanishing bulk had ruined her follow-through.
The Australian LGU is a formidable organization with similar attitudes and problems as its British counterpart. Of the major sports clubs in Melbourne, only six or so accept women as full members. In many places they are barred. A huge section of the 100,000-seat Melbourne Cricket Club stadium, site of the 1956 Olympics, is off limits to women and children. Elsewhere, women may have to use the backstairs entrance to clubs—even Victoria has its segregated entrance marked ASSOCIATE MEMBERS.
But in this situation, with the fine example of Great Britain's LGU to guide it, the Australian women are fighting back. Not only are they using the prestigious Victoria Club for the World Amateur, they are even going to have a dinner at neighboring Royal Melbourne this week before play begins, a party inside the clubhouse. And near Brisbane there is an even more stunning development taking place. The golfing ladies are opening a women-only club there.
Who needs St. Andrews?