Women need not apply to Butler National Golf Club

Chip Somodevilla

Butler National’s in a "death spiral," but that economic reality was not enough for the ol’ boys to open the doors to their man cave to women

Butler National Golf Club may be in Chicago, but the ol’ boys who defend the status quo at the 40-year-old golf course like it’s 1912 instead of 2012 may want to consider joining the Royal and Ancient. After all, the grand old traditions of belching, scratching, and barring women from membership are alive and well in both circa 19th-century organizations.

Even after the green jackets added women to its membership roster, the powers-that-be at Butler National -- who can forget about their chances of hosting prestigious events like the U.S. Open or a Ryder Cup -- voted to remain an all-male enclave, according to the Chicago Tribune. In what the publication said was the first vote of its kind on the issue of discrimination, not even 40 percent of members were willing to fling open its doors to the 21st century -- despite what one of the more enlightened affiliates said about the move that may threaten the club’s very existence.

“We are in a death spiral,” the member said, referring to the dubious financial condition the club found itself in after an expensive Tom Fazio makeover and a precipitous decline in membership reportedly because of a massive exit by business bigwigs concerned about backlash from belonging to an exclusionary club.

While the Tribune correctly stated that Butler National rated 54th on its “100 Greatest” list of courses, Geoff Shackleford noted that a favorite venue of Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald had dropped from 37th place in Golf Digest’s most recent rundown. No matter what the course’s rank, the stodgy old men who won’t budge on admitting women can forget about the $4 million or so that industry experts believe a U.S. Open could add to the club’s coffers. The USGA won’t stage events at clubs that discriminate against members of minority groups or women.

The R&A, by the way, would no doubt welcome Butler National into the fold, what with the USGA's counterpart in the U.K. standing in solidarity with its Windy City brothers-in-arms by defiantly maintaining its own women-need-not-apply credo.

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