Peter Alliss shows sexism in golf is far from over

Women & Golf believes sexism in golf is "still very much alive."

Andy Roberts's picture
Becky Gee, Women & Golf
Fri, 14 Apr 2017

Peter Alliss has caused uproar amongst golf fans yet again after making sexist comments regarding Sergio Garcia’s fiancee Angela Akins following the Spaniard’s victory at the Masters, writes Women & Golf editorial assistant Becky Gee.

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The 86-year-old was slammed by viewers following an off the mic comment in which he was overheard saying, "She's got the shortest skirt on campus."

It’s far from the first time the ‘voice of golf’, whose whimsical commentary continues to be loved by many, has been criticised for making inappropriate remarks.


Just a few days previous he created a furore after telling Newsweek that, ‘Women will never be able to do things that men can do.’

Calls for the veteran, who has worked for the BBC for 56 years, to stand down, have been expounded by some viewers for quite a time.

Last year, following the decision by Muirfield members to remain a men-only club, Alliss suggested that women who wish to play the course should consider marrying a member.

But is Alliss just an old-fashioned relic whose comments should be accepted as a product of his generation, or is the nation’s continued acceptance of his commentary a sign of a deeper sexism problem within the game?

It’s certainly hard to imagine any other sport in which a person with Alliss’ propensity for the inappropriate would not have been put out to pasture long ago.

Let’s face it. Akins skirt was short, and for all of Alliss’ gaffs this is far from the worse.

One tweet branded by the press, that Alliss had ruined Garcia’s big moment, was clearly ridiculous and for all his antiquated remarks, his commentary, at least in moderation, is somewhat amusing, if only the pleasure is largely derived from finding out what unfortunate comment he is going to make next.

But the fact Alliss continues to be popular suggests that as golfers we are prepared to accept a level of sexism which we would consider inappropriate in other walks of life.

After all, this is a sport which until a decade ago saw it fit that women should only be allowed on the golf course at specific times, in which clubhouses that were segregated by gender weren’t particularly unusual, and which flaunted a governing body that unashamedly excluded female members.

Golf’s image is certainly changing. There’s a concerted drive this year to get women into golf. Women’s Golf Day is building momentum and females are increasingly sitting at the helm at various golf club boards, rather than merely being relegated to the subordinate role of lady captain.

Things have certainly come a long way, but the idea that sexism is a generational problem, that will be eradicated once the likes of Alliss and his cronies have put down their clubs, is a little naive.

Whether it's seemingly innocent comments aimed at the womenfolk in clubhouses, the fact that sexy Instagram stars like Blair O’Neil and Paige Spirinac have substantially bigger social media followings than the top names on the LPGA, or that most clubs still hold separate competitions for men and women, sexism in the sport is still very much alive.

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