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Women of Newcastle GC play on Saturday for first time in 112 years

POSTED ON October 8, 2017 @ 5:13 pm

For these women, teeing off on a Saturday has been a long time coming.

Ladies President Jenny Thompson said the exclusion of women on Saturdays — a rule which has stood for 112 years — dates back to the early days of golf, including at the Newcastle Golf Club.

“Because women stayed at home and men went to work it was felt that women who took up the game could play during the week and leave Saturdays free for the men,” she said.

But today, a group of women were the first to tee-off in a new era, with women allowed to take to the course on a Saturday for the first time.

There’s a recognition the step forward is long overdue, and it comes after a shake-up of the club’s board earlier this year.

The rule allowing women on a Saturday had actually been in the constitution for several years, however it was only implemented recently, following the change at board level.

“Our current board was fully supportive and encouraged this to happen whereas previously at Newcastle that wasn’t the case,” Ms Thompson said.

“In reality, if a women or group of women had previously wanted to force the issue and play on a Saturday they could have done so but it would have been with quite a lot of opposition from the leadership of the club at the time.

“Now all the members of the board and our new President have been fully supportive of it and we’ve been able to do it congenially and comfortably within the club and that’s been important for us

Macquarie University Professor Catharine Lumby said the concept that men needed to have Saturday’s to themselves was “ludicrous”.

“I think gender discrimination in this era is ridiculous, everybody knows it,” she said.

“Many women, myself included, are the breadwinners in their families, so maybe an afternoon on Saturday is the only time they have to have a bit of self time, and that could include a bit of golf.”

Newcastle Golf Club Director Edward Geschke said the decision was a “no-brainer”.

“It’s wonderful that it’s happening and I’m very proud to be part of a board that’s made it possible,” he said.

Ladies captain Susie Davies said the occasion was well overdue.

“Over 100 years we’ve been waiting for this,” she said.

“The men were very positive, they were so welcoming.”

“It’s very important for all the ladies to feel included, whether it’s at a golf course or wherever in whatever sport they’re playing, I’d had no negative comments, nothing to suggest any animosity at all.”

The move is considered an important one for a club as old as Newcastle.

“Newcastle Golf Club has long remained in the country’s top 20 clubs and I think for a club of our long history and status it’s really important that we finally made this change,” Ms Thompson said.

But there are still other clubs around Australia who have similar rules against women playing on Saturdays.

“One by one the dominoes are falling so to speak,” Ms Thompson said.

“There are still famous Australian clubs like The Australian in Sydney and quite a number of other clubs in Sydney that don’t have women on a Saturday.”

The move will make it easier for working women to play golf, with members hoping this will attract more professional women in the Newcastle area to be part of the club.

“Not only is it beneficial to our current members but I certainly expect and hope we’ll get some interest from younger professional women,” Ms Thompson said.

“All golf clubs need an injection of new members all the time and I think this will be a really positive move for the club.”

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