OPINION

“Golf’s shameful silence on Prince Andrew scandal speaks volumes"

Prince Andrew New

Oh, the Grand Old Duke of York. He knew some awful men.

Yet, in spite of Prince Andrew’s links to convicted US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his decision to “withdraw from royal duties” for the foreseeable future, golf continues to dither and delay in its reproach of him.

Barclays, BT and Standard Chartered are among the many organisations to have cut loose the Queen’s third born since his cataclysmically ill-considered BBC interview aired last weekend.

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The ensuing fallout prompted the Duke to withdraw from royal duties for the “foreseeable future”.

Condemnation for His Royal Highness has been in thick, rich and deserved supply. Conspicuous by its silence? Golf, of course.

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Listed on the Duke’s own website are 27 different golf clubs, societies and organisations of which he is a patron.

To date, none have severed ties with him.

I emailed all 27 before ten o’clock this morning to establish their position on the Duke and his continuing patronage in light of recent events.

It’s now four o’clock. Only ten have replied.

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Disappointing? Certainly. Surprising? Sadly not.

Many of those who hold positions of responsibility in golf are tone deaf to public opinion. It’s part of the reason why those who don’t know better draw misshapen conclusions about the sport.

They say it’s stuffy, old-fashioned, dominated by elderly, affluent men, and that it exists, entirely of its own volition, on the periphery of modern society.

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They don’t see the many bold steps made to make the game more inclusive and progressive. They don’t see the many, many initiatives designed to make it more appealing to a younger demographic. They don’t see the reasons to play, only the reasons not to. They don’t see that this is a modern sport, despite the best efforts of a fuddy-duddy few.

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And you know what? It’s hard to blame them. Golf has a frustrating habit of getting in its own way, of bricking up the path to progress as quickly as it lays it. One step forward, two steps back, ad infinitum.

Bigger organisations with much more to lose have distanced themselves from Prince Andrew over this abhorrent, sickening scandal – a scandal, lest we forget, that has devastated the lives of its many young victims.

But not golf.

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Instead, the sport is standing in the middle of the fairway, waiting for the green to clear.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

Or, as the Royal insignia proclaims, “Dieu et mon droit” – God and my right.

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For what it’s worth, I prefer a different Latin proverb.

In absentia lucis, Tenebrae vincunt”.

In the absence of light, darkness prevails.

Nobody, especially not a man who by biological fluke has been born into a life of nauseating privilege and entitlement, should be above the game.

Rather, in this instance, he should be marched right up to the top of the hill and, ideally, left there.

NOTE - Since this piece was published, The Golf Foundation has taken the decision to revoke Prince Andrew's patronage.

Your thoughts

What, if anything, do you think golf should do regarding Prince Andrew, the Duke of York? Leave your thoughts in our Comments section below.

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