GULLANE, Scotland (Reuters) - British Open organisers the R&A are aware the issue of gender and single-sex golf clubs is a divisive one which it is finding increasingly difficult to handle, said chief executive Peter Dawson.
The 142nd British Open starts on Thursday at Muirfield, one of three male-only member clubs on the tournament's rota, and the R&A has again come under pressure to change its stance.
"Obviously the whole issue of gender and single-sex clubs has been pretty much beaten to death recently," Dawson told a news conference.
"And we do, I assure you, understand that this is divisive. It's a subject we're finding increasingly difficult, to be honest."
Dawson said the R&A (Royal & Ancient) had been at pains recently to try to explain some of the facts around the issue.
"Single-sex clubs are in a very small minority in the UK," he added. "Half of them are women only, half of them are men only. They're perfectly legal. In our view they don't do anyone any harm.
"The media are, with seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm, giving out the message that this is an issue and that such clubs should be condemned to extinction and we shouldn't be using one to stage the Open Championship.
"We understand that view," said Dawson.
Editing by Tony Jimenez