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Woman Executive Challenges Club Limits on When Women Can Golf

August 1, 1990

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ Marguerite Martin, like a lot of other business executives, has a passion for golf.

But she has a problem. She works during the week, and her club, the Longmeadow Country Club, has a rule banning women from the course on weekend mornings.

So Ms. Martin filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

″Most country clubs discriminate against women and restrict when they can play,″ Ms. Martin said Wednesday. ″As hard as it is to understand, it’s really very simple. To many men, golf isn’t a game. It’s a disease that doesn’t incorporate women.″

Ms. Martin, who launched her own financial management firm after retiring from the insurance business, said she smarted under the Longmeadow Country Club’s restrictions for 25 years. She filed the complaint only after trying unsuccessfully for six years to get the club’s Board of Governors to ease its restrictions on women.

″As a younger woman you rationalize that making a squawk could hurt your business and back off,″ she said. ″I’m 65. I’ve lived a good life and gotten though a lot of different types of discrimination. At this time in my life I have to face up to facts. And the fact is that I can’t stand this any longer.″

Donald R. Dupre, president of the 350-member club, was on vacation and could not be reached for comment on the complaint, which was filed last month. Two other officers, Vice President John M. Naughton and Secretary Norman J. Van Tassel, declined comment on the action.

Ms. Martin suggested that the rules stemmed from the country club’s beginnings in 1922 when most women did not work outside the home and could more easily golf on weekdays.

″Most of the women in the Longmeadow Club still fall into that category,″ she said. ″And in truth when you get beyond the hysteria there would probably be only a couple of women who would play on Saturday mornings and it wouldn’t bother anybody.″

Alan Cassella, a compliance officer for the discrimination commission, said her complaint was filed under a section of the law covering private organizations that solicit the patronage of the general public.

Earlier this year in Hermitage, Pa., protests led officials at the Hickory VFW Golf Course to roll back a rule requiring women to wait until 11 a.m. to tee off.

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