Dawson disputed any suggestion that male-only clubs stifle the growth of the sport.
Still, he knows it will continue to be a point of contention — especially since Augusta National admitted its first female members last year — so the organization that governs golf outside the U.S. and Mexico plans to take it up once the Open is completed.
He wouldn’t say what steps might be taken.
“Our natural reaction is to resist these pressures, because we actually don’t think they have very much substance,” Dawson said.
“But I’d like to stress we’re not so insular as to fail to recognize the potential damage that campaigns like this can do to the Open championship. And it is our championship committee’s responsibility to do what is best for the Open, and to maximize the benefits which the Open brings, not just to golf, but also to the local area.”
The debate has lurked over golf since Martha Burk and her women’s advocacy group targeted the home of the Masters in 2002 for admitting only men as members. Then-chairman Johnson famously said the club would not be bullied into accepting women “at the point of a bayonet,” even at the cost of cutting loose television sponsors for two years.
Eleven months ago, with no advance notice and an understated announcement, Augusta National invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become members. Tiger Woods called the move “important to golf,” and now the battle has moved across the pond to the oldest of golf’s four majors.
Dawson said the issue will be addressed.
Just not right now.
“When things are a bit quieter, after the championship,” he said, “I’m quite sure we’ll be taking a look at everything to see what kind of sense we can make of it for the future. But I think right now our concentration has to be on this wonderful event and making it a success.”