Thousands of golfers from across the country converged on the Surrey town of Surbiton yesterday to take part in the first ever ‘Golf Pride’ rally. Even the organisers of the event were said to be taken aback by the size of the turnout, with many of the participants wheeling colourful golf trolleys behind them and with sporadic shouts of ‘fore’ rippling through the boisterous crowd.
Pat Heaney, President of the Surbiton Golf Club, which set the event up, said, ‘It’s just overwhelming that so many people have come here to say, hand on heart, that they are proud to play golf. I’ve never seen so many tartan trousers.’
Almost all of those attending were white, middle-class men over thirty, and many said this was the first time they’d felt confident enough to come out and express their love of a good eighteen holes without fear of persecution or ridicule. Mr Heaney said; ‘We’ve had enough of people sniggering at us. So we’re here to shout with a common voice; ‘We like hitting little balls with a stick!’ Get used to it.’
At the end of the rally the marchers converged on the lawns outside the Surbiton G.C. clubhouse to hear an impassioned speech from leading golf rights activist Peter Alliss, who said. ‘I have a dream that one day there will be an end to discrimination against golfers. We are proud of our clubs, our lives, our etiquette, our clothes and our mashie niblicks. I want young men and women, er, well not so much women, actually, er, to grow up in the knowledge that, when the time comes for them, they can say, with pride, and with their heads held high: ‘Dad, I’m a golfer’.
Despite a heavy police presence there were no arrests at what is expected to become an annual plea for greater tolerance. However a number of golfers asked the police to take swift action against one man who was wearing a short-sleeve shirt without a tie in the clubhouse on a Monday.