2002: Female golfers file discrimination complaint

Three female golfers have filed a legal complaint against Coatesville (Pa.) Country Club, alleging that the club denies female members full-voting privileges and weekend tee times during men’s tournaments.

One of the women says the recent attention on the lack of female members at Augusta National Golf Club has nothing to do with the timing of their discrimination complaint.

“No,” Joyce Pillets, one of the three women represented in the complaint, said in an Oct. 20 phone interview. “I really haven’t followed (the Augusta situation).

“This all started in January. We went to the board multiple times, telling them what we wanted and asking them to do it in an amicable way. We were willing to compromise, but they just ignored it. Then when we brought the Women’s Law Project into it, they granted access to the grill room in May.

“But they’re still ignoring everything else we’ve tried to talk to them about. Doing this was the only recourse open to us.”

Said Terry Fromson of the Women’s Law Project, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit legal organization that promotes gender rights: “Although some clubs have dropped the archaic rules limiting membership rights of women, others, like Augusta and Coatesville, rigidly insist on maintaining women as second-class citizens.”

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Coatesville Country Club, founded in 1921, has approximately 60 women among its estimated 300 members, but only one woman on the club’s 15-person board of governors. Members Judy Uhrich and Janet Stewart also are involved in the complaint.

At an Oct. 15 news conference, the women said their main objections are that married female members are not allowed to vote – even though their husbands are given that right under club rules – and that they are not given access to tee times when all-male events are held during the summer.

Club officials deny the accusations of inequality.

“The allegations are simply not true,” John Romeo, an attorney for the club, told the Inquirer. “If a woman comes to the club, she is given equal access to tee times and everything else.”

The three women said they have received threatening phone messages from some members.

Meanwhile, Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, said Oct. 16 that she might target sponsors of PGA Tour events to put more pressure on Augusta National leaders to admit women. “I expect to be having a conversation with PGA Tour sponsors,” she said.

Burk also said protesters might greet players outside the gates of Augusta National next April if women are not on the membership rolls by then.

“People are interested in coming down and protesting, and they’re not necessarily my members,” Burk said. “There are college groups who say they’ll come down and protest instead of going to Fort Lauderdale for spring break. Women’s groups are writing me telling me they’ll take vacation to protest.”

– Staff and wire reports










One of the women says the recent attention on the lack of female members at Augusta National Golf Club has nothing to do with the timing of their discrimination complaint.

“No,” Joyce Pillets, one of the three women represented in the complaint, said in an Oct. 20 phone interview. “I really haven’t followed (the Augusta situation).

“This all started in January. We went to the board multiple times, telling them what we wanted and asking them to do it in an amicable way. We were willing to compromise, but they just ignored it. Then when we brought the Women’s Law Project into it, they granted access to the grill room in May.

“But they’re still ignoring everything else we’ve tried to talk to them about. Doing this was the only recourse open to us.”

Said Terry Fromson of the Women’s Law Project, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit legal organization that promotes gender rights: “Although some clubs have dropped the archaic rules limiting membership rights of women, others, like Augusta and Coatesville, rigidly insist on maintaining women as second-class citizens.”

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Coatesville Country Club, founded in 1921, has approximately 60 women among its estimated 300 members, but only one woman on the club’s 15-person board of governors. Members Judy Uhrich and Janet Stewart also are involved in the complaint.

At an Oct. 15 news conference, the women said their main objections are that married female members are not allowed to vote – even though their husbands are given that right under club rules – and that they are not given access to tee times when all-male events are held during the summer.

Club officials deny the accusations of inequality.

“The allegations are simply not true,” John Romeo, an attorney for the club, told the Inquirer. “If a woman comes to the club, she is given equal access to tee times and everything else.”

The three women said they have received threatening phone messages from some members.

Meanwhile, Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, said Oct. 16 that she might target sponsors of PGA Tour events to put more pressure on Augusta National leaders to admit women. “I expect to be having a conversation with PGA Tour sponsors,” she said.

Burk also said protesters might greet players outside the gates of Augusta National next April if women are not on the membership rolls by then.

“People are interested in coming down and protesting, and they’re not necessarily my members,” Burk said. “There are college groups who say they’ll come down and protest instead of going to Fort Lauderdale for spring break. Women’s groups are writing me telling me they’ll take vacation to protest.”

– Staff and wire reports










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