“The Unplayable Lie: The Untold Story of Women and Discrimination in American Golf” by Marcia Chambers
Reviewed by Eric Delozier, associate librarian, Penn State Harrisburg
Each month the Diversity Committee will publish a review of a diversity-related title from the University Libraries’ collections. I chose this particular title because of my interest in golf as both a participant and spectator.
In August 2012, it was widely reported that two prominent women, former secretary of state Condoleeza Rice and investment executive Darla Moore, accepted invitations for membership to the Augusta National Golf Club, arguably the most famous private golf club in the world and host of the annual Masters golf tournament each spring. The club was widely applauded for changing their long-standing policy against extending invitations for membership to females. The decision came ten years after Martha Burk, former chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, publicly accused the club of discrimination.
Although the Augusta National story is an isolated one, the issue of gender discrimination at private and public golf facilities is not. In “The Unplayable Lie: The Untold Story of Women and Discrimination in American Golf” by Marcia Chambers (http://goo.gl/4hhjq ), the author reveals the breadth and depth of discrimination women have experienced at private golf clubs. Chambers’ book is based on analyses of legal and legislative documents and interviews with many women, some of who understandably requested anonymity. She writes about wives of regular members (WORMs) who are permitted to hold associate or guest, but not full memberships. Consequently, they are not eligible for the same privileges as spouses. She also speaks about the “grass ceiling” where restricted playing time limits female executives from cultivating business relationships on the golf course. There are also reports of women who were stalked, harassed, and shunned because they had the courage to challenge the status quo.
This book was published at a time when golf started to witness a tremendous growth in participation and spectatorship. Fifteen years later the issue remains relevant. The sport is still not perceived as one that offers equal opportunities for women and minorities despite industry attempts to “grow the game.” As someone who enjoys golf as a participant and spectator, I developed a greater appreciation for the subject of Ms. Chambers work. This book is one of approximately 51 titles on the subject of golf and women in The Cat (http://goo.gl/4BdBG) that I’ve identified and hope to read. I only have 50 more to go!