Nick Rodger: Golf pioneer Karyn Dallas on women’s game development through bumps down the road


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In the old days, haughty opinions were omnipresent before painting or smiles were invented and men spent a lot of time sitting on a mantel while smoking a pipe and twirling their mustaches.

The ridicule was great and arrogant when women golfers of the late 1800s shared a willingness to join what would later become the Ladies’ Golf Union.

“women have never joined together and can never join together to make any endeavor a success.”women have never joined together and will never join together to make a successful endeavor.”women are constitutionally and physically unfit for golf”women are unfit for golf constitutionally and physically”the first women’s championship will be the last.”the first women’s championship will be the last.

Of course, since old Horace’s day, things have moved on a bit, and opportunities, exposure and access for golfing women will continue to redefine stereotypes, shake off stifling shackles and shed dusty stereotypes. It remains a work in progress, however.

Margot McCuaig’s “Iron Women” examines the past of women’s golf in Scotland in a documentary airing tonight (Saturday) on BBC ALBA and shines a light on the pioneering women who blazed a path despite stubborn patriarchal constraints and widespread opposition.

From Musselburgh’s golfing fishwives to influencers and innovators such as Issette Pearson and Agnes Grainger to decorated campaigners such as Dorothy Campbell, Jessie Valentine and Belle Robertson, “Iron Women” honors the defiant efforts of the traditional female bearers who helped spread the gospel of golf.

On the other side, Karyn Dallas knows how to break new ground. After Portlethen’s Muriel Thomson, she became just the second woman in 1998 to be appointed a full-time professional at a Scottish club when she took the job at Kirriemuir. One of the golfers interviewed in “Iron Women” is Dallas, a former Ladies European Tour player who is now a professional at Forfar, who talks about the challenges they have encountered over the years while talking warmly about the joy golf has given them throughout their lives.

This love didn’t leave Dallas. Luckily, some of the oddities she witnessed went missing from golf. “We were at an event in the South and there was a sign that said ‘No Dogs, No Women,'”We were at an event in the South and there was a sign that said ‘No Dogs, No Women.’ “We actually laughed at it a little bit. We weren’t even mentioned at the top of the sign. That was the rule back then, even though they were having a women’s event. They took it down the next day. I think we’ve come a long way since those days, and with each generation, the ripples get smoother for those who follow.”

Dallas’ memories of her formative golf years remain overwhelmingly optimistic at East Kilbride. Coaxed into the game by her family, the great American Nancy Lopez was her own inspiring heroine. Dallas says, “She had her hair in a ponytail and tucked her tee pegs in the back,” For me, that was it. I was excited. I decided to play golf. There were just a couple other girls playing at East Kilbride at the time, but thankfully our youth director was really forward-thinking. He put the junior medals together because I was up there all the time, and I was able to play with the boys. If he hadn’t done that and I had always played with the same girls, I think I would have only earned the junior medals.

Dallas agrees that “we’re crying out for more female participation,” and golf can’t afford to stand still in this age of countless distractions and alternative pastimes. “Some clubs won’t let kids under 12 in, but at that age you already have access to many other sports, and golf can fall by the wayside,” she says. “At Forfar, they can be signed up as young as six. Give them a club and a ball and tell them to tee off and they love it. It’s all about getting them excited early.”

Dallas was certainly addicted, and golf’s presence enhanced her personal and professional life. Golf has Microphones


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