Men and women in golf

When Annika Sorenstam played with the men in the PGA Tour event at Colonial in 2003 I was invited to Studio 1 on Swedish radio to discuss the concept of men’s and women’s sports and the possibility of uniting the two. Or perhaps the lack of interest in bringing the two together. Of course when Annika played, it was  a huge thing in the world of sport and it was probably the first time that golf, and perhaps sports in general, played a part in Studio 1. This is were they would normally discuss things like domestic politics and the Middle East crisis. Now Annika had given the world’s media a chance to make her the lone soldier of the female population, ready to take on the men and the unequal society. In Annika’s own mind she had only accepted a chance to test herself against the men and she later admitted that perhaps this was a bit naive. She simply could not understand how big this was going to become.

I am once again reminded about this when I read about the first woman to qualify for a men’s tour in golf. Isabelle Beisiegel has earned her card for the Canadian Tour and even though that is not one of the major places of work for professional golfers it is quite a step for a female golfer. When I was on Studio 1, philosopher  Claudio Tamburrini, argued that separating men and women in sports is just another act of sexism. He claims that separating the two is merely a case of the men being afraid of losing to the women. One example that he gives is the 1992 Olympics where 14 year old Shan Zang won the gold medal in trap shooting, against the men. After that the sport was removed from the Olympic programme and when it returned in 2000 men and women were separated. It will be interesting to see what happens in golf going forward!

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