Thursday marked the beginning of the Masters Tournament, hosted by the Augusta National Golf Club — a club that admits only men.
President Obama has come out swinging in favor of the idea that women should be admitted to the Augusta National. Eighty years of excluding women is enough!
“It’s long past the time when women should be excluded from anything,” spokesman Jay Carney said, on the president’s behalf.
I realize that as a woman I am expected to, I think, roar now. Or something. Does anyone have a brassiere I can burn? I will dutifully toddle down to Augusta and burn one next to the golf course. “Roar,” I will say. I am a little tired from the past several weeks of roaring non-stop every time a state legislature does anything, but it seems to be what the occasion demands.
“SHH!” everyone will yelp. “You are disrupting the backswing!”
Look, my heart’s just not in it.
It’s not that I don’t think women should be allowed to do everything men do, backward, in heels — or forward, in flats, as they prefer. I do.
But — golf? No one should play golf. Not even men.
I know this will pain the president. He loves his golf as much as the next guy, assuming the next guy is an old gentleman with hairy arms who belongs to a country club.
But consider the sport.
Golf is the rare sport that doubles as a mild sedative.
It is the only sport where they actively discourage fans from getting too excited. It is the only sport where belonging to a country club is viewed as an asset. You play it in slacks. You play it in a polo shirt and a belt, and instead of being beaten up, you are commended. Most people who are really good at it are paunchy fellows in their mid-40s.
Maybe I say this as a spurned admirer of the Least Dangerous Game.
Once, for about a week, I took up golf. The golf pro instructed me in the arcane ways of this ancient religion. I hefted the wood or the iron. I locked or unlocked my elbows. I swung. I missed. I accidentally flung the club several meters and injured a passing caddy. The divot created by my missed swings was so deep that I created an entirely new water hazard and was accused of failing to observe fracking best practices.
President Obama has long been defined by his association with the game of golf. For him, it no doubt seems like a hardship that anyone is prevented from playing it.
But I’m not so sure. Look, if men hosted Hunger Games annually, I would not clamor for women to be admitted. And golf is far, far less exciting than the Hunger Games, and you cannot get out of it by dying. You merely slow down the progress of the group playing behind you.
Women have already insinuated themselves into so many areas of modern life. Next we'll have women joining the priesthood and being elected pope, or designated pope by the Smoke Monster, or whatever it is that happens. Heaven forfend!
Some institutions are sacred. Golf should be one of them.
There are certain fundamental differences between men and women. Women live longer. Men run state legislatures and most businesses. Women can give birth. Men can make a lot of laws about what happens beforehand. Frankly, there are some things men do that women should not do. For instance, have you ever seen a woman laugh at “Last Man Standing”?
Of course women shouldn't be admitted to the Augusta National. The loud noise of their feelings would disrupt the backswings of golfers on neighboring tees. The men in the clubhouse might glimpse their ankles and have to undergo years of costly therapy.
Besides, what about freedom of association? Usually free association results in people rambling therapeutically about dragons and bad experiences they once had with bears. But sometimes it means that you don’t have to have me in your club. And when that club is a golf club, I’m all for it. I just wish the Augusta National kept men out, too.