A woman has sued her municipal golf course for refusing her right to play in a tournament because she is a woman.
Elaine Joyce, a champion amateur golfer, and her father were looking forward to a weekend tournament last May at the respected public course on Cape Cod where they hold full memberships. But their names were not listed when officials posted the tee times for the event at the Dennis Pines course.
The Masters U.S. Open British Open P.G.A. Championship Joyce’s father, Pat, received a call from the club’s head pro, Russell Champoux, who said the tournament was not open to women. It did not matter that Joyce would play from the men’s tees. Or that she had won more than 20 club championships over the years. Or that she had captured the title in 2001 at an event for the state’s top female club champions.
Joyce complained to the town, but over the next several months, Robert Canevazzi, the Dennis town administrator, did not budge. When Joyce filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in July, the club said its actions were not discriminatory. In a letter, Canevazzi told Joyce that the club would begin scheduling men’s and women’s fields in all tournaments in 2008, giving women more weekend play. The club’s lawyer, Kristin Tyler Harris, reiterated the position. But women would not be permitted to play in men’s tournaments.
On Friday, Joyce, 43, filed a federal lawsuit in United States District Court in Boston to challenge the town and the golf officials. Her case confronts the tradition of men’s tournaments on morning weekends, events that are woven into the fabric of golf life at private and public courses.
The 25-page federal complaint says that by denying Joyce the same “full citizenship status” as men at a public golf course is as unlawful as operating a men’s-only bar or a whites-only drinking fountain. Joyce is “entitled to the equal opportunity to aspire, to achieve and to participate based upon her individual talents and capacities regardless of her gender,” her lawyer, Laura R. Studen, said.
Good for her. As detailed in the article, this isn’t the first case of discrimination that Joyce has suffered as a woman trying to play competitively. A decade ago, a neighboring town apparently tried to disallow her the right to play with the men on weekends — and when the town administration required them to accept her, she faced some really ugly, misogynist reactions:
After the town acted in that case, it took 18 months for her to be admitted as a member. Joyce said some members of the group were appalled and let her know it. One said he would play only if she played naked. Others walked off the course when paired with her. Some refused to speak to her during rounds.
Way to be adults, jackasses. One would think that common decency would bar them from playing if unable to grant their fellow golfers the most basic kind of respect, but apparently having a penis really is the most important requirement for membership.
Now, of course, Joyce is well within her rights to sue. And whatever her ultimate reason for doing so, I think that she is correct and I wish her well. I can, however, make a highly educated guess as to the exact straw that broke this camel’s back. At least, if it was me, and I was wavering on whether or not to litigate, I know that my decision would have been made right here:
Although Elaine Joyce is a member, Champoux, the head pro, did not inform her of the decision to bar her from playing. Instead, he called her father.
Oh yeah, they did. Even though she is a member, even though she was scheduled to play in a tournament with her father, even though the reason for disallowing their right to play was based on her, they couldn’t even extend the courtesy of giving her a fucking phone call. They called her dad.
If these guys are really so damn stupid, arrogant and disrespectful to add that kind of insult to the injury, I say they deserve to be taken for every dime they’re worth.