Golf

Laura Davies believes vote is a big moment for golf

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Dame Laura Davies has said that the vote in favour of women membership at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews could be the catalyst to inspire young female golfers.

The vote represents the first time the club has agreed to allow women members for the first time in their 260-year history.

Significant contribution

The result will be in effect immediately with 15 women being offered memberships who have made a "significant contribution" to the sport.

Davies, who won four majors during her golf career, could be in line for a membership and admitted that she would "snap their hands off" if she was offered one.

The two times winner of the LPGA Championship hopes that this decision will see an influx of females taking up the sport.

Big moment

"This is a big moment. Girls will see it as a viable option as a sport to play," said Davies.

The 2,400 R&A members were asked to vote through ballot papers with 'yes' votes being the overwhelming majority.

Before the vote women were allowed to play on the Old Course at St Andrews on Scotland but were unable to join as members.

Positive move

Davies has been playing professional for almost 30 years and thinks the change is a positive move for everyone involved in the sport.

"Women's golf is so big now that it's only right that at the home of golf, women should be members there. It's good news all round.

"Times move on and I think all of them probably realise that it's a bit ridiculous in this day and age.

"I spoke to someone from the LGU (Ladies' Golf Union) recently and they said numbers are down in women's golf clubs.

"Maybe the vote will raise awareness and women will start thinking 'Oh, I thought that was a male-orientated sport'.

"You've got to remember some people haven't even played the game and this might just give them the encouragement to try it."

Moved on

Davies recalled earlier in her career some of the rules given to women golfers and is glad that the sport has moved on dramatically since those days.

"I remember as a young golfer when I was about 15, you weren't even allowed to walk in front of the window [of the clubhouse]. You were allowed on the course but not in front of the men's bar. That sort of thing has gone by the board now," she said.

"Myself and Julie Brown were brought in front of the secretary because we had walked in front of the men's members' lounge at one club. We weren't members there and were in a junior competition.

"We were young girls and absolutely panic-stricken about the rules. Golf in those days was a lot more stuffy than it is now."

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Treated badly

Even during a big women's event, the Curtis Cup at Muirfield in 1984, Davies felt that females were treated badly compared to males.

"We weren't allowed in certain parts of the clubhouse and yet we were playing in one of the biggest amateur women's tournaments you could possibly play in. It's one of those things, but was a bit weird, I have to say," she said.

Encourage

Charley Hull and Georgia Hall are examples of young British talent in the female world of golf. Although the sport is dominated by male golfers Davies hopes the success of these two will encourage more young girls to play golf.

"I'd love to see a hugely strong British representation, not just on the world pro tour but in the amateur ranks, really good young players coming through," said the 50-year-old.

"I know the recent ones like Charley Hulland Georgia Hall have just come through - they are going to be hugely successful over their career, I'm sure."

Lack of role models

But she feels that women lack role models in golf and believes that more coverage should be given to the LPGA Tour.

"The biggest thing for me that holds back women's golf is the lack of television coverage. If women's golf was more mainstream on television, there would be a massive influx of young people."

The nature of golf gives everyone an opportunity to play on a recreational level and Davies hopes that young girls, even its it only casually, will start playing "the greatest game."

"I think there's huge opportunities. There's so many golf courses, and it does take quite a bit of time to play, it is time consuming, but you can go down the range, hit some shots, have fun with your mates over nine holes - for me it is the greatest game."

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