Return to the Golf Today Home PageAll the latest golf newsCoverage of all the worlds major toursFor all your golfing needsGolf Course DirectoryOut on the courseGolf related travelWhats going on, message board, links and more!
 
Worldwide Feature Articles
 
Top Stories
PGA: Stephen Ames coasts to six shot win
PGA: Tiger Woods ends difficult week with 75
Euro: Van de Velde ends 13 year victory wait
Stephen Ames vaults to World No. 27
Boost for the Philippine Open
Tiger Woods misses practice to be with father

Woman to take R&A to court over status

Former British Open champion Vivien Saunders wants her amateur status back, and she's ready to take on the "old boys in blazers" who set the rules at one of golf's most venerable clubs.

"The whole rules on amateur status are outdated," Saunders told The Associated Press. "If you teach golf, and I've been a coach for years and years and years, you can't play in anything. You're classified as a professional golfer."

Saunders, founder of the first European women's tour, plans to take the Royal & Ancient golf club to court. The 57-year-old lawyer said Monday she intends to take her case to the Court of Sessions, the highest court in Scotland, under Britain's Human Rights Act.

The R&A is an all-male private club at the home of golf in St. Andrews, Scotland. Saunders' dispute comes at a time when Martha Burk is leading opposition to the all-male Augusta National Golf Club, the site of the Masters, and plans a protest there next month.

Saunders played her last pro tournament 15 years ago. Her last pro win was 20 years ago. She helped win the Curtis Cup for Britain and Ireland over the United States in 1968.

When she asked about the prospects of being a pro golfer that year, Saunders says golf authorities took away her amateur status.

She has spent three decades as a teaching pro and coach and now wants to play competitive golf again. She applied for reinstatement as an amateur in 2000. The R&A told her she would have to wait three years, compared with two years in the United States. Three appeals were denied by the R&A, the governing body of golf worldwide outside the United States and Mexico.

"They're trying to pretend that they're not discriminatory," she said. "They're trying to pretend that they've got this wonderful appeals procedure, but you're only appealing to same old boys in blazers who make the rules anyway. They think they're slightly below God and just above the government."

R&A secretary Peter Dawson said the club wasn't breaking the law.

"We don't think there is a human rights issue here," Dawson said. "There is no gender issue here. Of course, if there is, we'll have to modify the way that we deal with these things. But our advice is, it isn't an issue."

Dawson said the R&A was willing to alter its amateur rules.

"Every few years, there's a slight relaxation," he said. "But we do believe that the principle of a distinction is important for golf. That's thoroughly supported by the professional and amateur golfing authorities."

Dawson said Saunders was lucky to even be considered for reinstatement. He said the rules state "players of national prominence" who have been professional for more than five years can't return to amateur status.

"The R&A decided that in this case, we would be willing to entertain the application," he said.

Saunders competed on the LPGA Tour in the United States from 1969-71, then played in Australia and Japan. Saunders won the British Open in 1977 before setting up the first European women's pro tour in 1979.

She now runs two country clubs near Cambridge in central England.

 

This years news archive | Email this page to a friend | Return to top of page