Wednesday, June 4, 1997
Men-only rule lands golfer
in gender trap


BY TIM SULLIVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Lori Templeman did not want to make a scene. She wanted to make birdies. She wanted to schmooze. She showed up at Western Hills Country Club on Monday morning to play golf and cultivate clients.

She left the course embarrassed, but without the opportunity to embarrass herself on the tee. The Walter Hagen Invitational Golf Tournament exists for charity, and for men.

"I was the first one of my foursome to arrive and I went to check in and a gentleman from the course came up to me and said, 'You're not allowed to be here. You'll have to leave,' " Templeman said Tuesday afternoon. "He was very abrupt."

The gentleman was tournament chairman Lee Gleason, who says he was not very abrupt, but who can be a stickler for the rules.

The Hagen, he explained, is one of two annual tournaments conducted as benefits for the American Cancer Society. A similar women's tournament will be played in August. Participants in both events advance to the state tournament, which in turn serves as qualifying for a national championship.

"We are by no means against women playing golf," Gleason said. "But it's the format . . . I just told her the rules and said, 'I'm sorry you were put in this box. I can't let your score count.' "

'An injustice,' she says

In theory, single-sex competitions can be separate but equal. The trouble is that there is no such thing as separate but equal in actual practice.

There is a lot more than golf going on at your typical charity scramble. Viox Services certainly did not pay a $350 entry fee for Lori Templeman to help perfect her putting. Golf courses are a breeding ground for business deals - Templeman had hoped to chat up some customers from Chiquita - and to exclude women is to place them at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis bonding males.

"I think it's an injustice in many ways," Templeman said. "You learn a lot about your customers in a more casual atmosphere. I think it's a huge advantage."

It is a small point, perhaps, but a sensitive one. Perceived sex discrimination may not matter much to the Walter Hagen organizers, but it is sure to strike a chord with participating companies and tournament sponsors.

When Lori Templeman was told she was ineligible for the Hagen, her boss and playing partner, Tim Viox, was initially inclined to withdraw in sympathy. Tournament organizers subsequently offered to let Templeman play on the condition that her foursome's scores would not count.

She chose to leave rather than remain where she wasn't welcome. Jennie Carlson, however, is more combative. When the Star Bank vice president arrived for an afternoon tee time, she insisted on playing in spite of being disqualified, and from the blue tees. She rather relished it, too.

"It was very awkward," Carlson said Tuesday. "But I was not going to go quietly into the night, which is what they really wanted me to do. The bank paid a lot of money for a foursome. As equal opportunity employers, it never occurred to us that this would happen."

Just a misunderstanding?

Gleason said women participants had never been an issue before in the tournament's 23 years in Hamilton County. The word, he said, was out.

"Everybody who's involved in golf knows what the Hagen is," he said. "What happened was there were two teams that came that were new to the tournament. The guys that brought them (Templeman and Carlson) didn't realize (the tournament is all-male)."

This was an easy misunderstanding to make. The Hagen's player - entry form makes no reference to gender and claims, in capital letters: "ALL HANDICAPS WELCOME."

"Golfers without USGA handicap will compete in the Scramble Division," it reads. "This player's team may compete in the regular Hagen Tournament if the player without a handicap agrees to play at zero handicap. Any team may compete in the Scramble Division." Any team, that is, without women.

"If they're comfortable with that and don't mind being dinosaurs, that's their business," Jennie Carlson said. "I think the thing to do is just keep showing up."