Why Jacques Rogge must take a lead on golf gender equality

If you walked into a shop and were told you had to leave because of the colour of your skin, your religion or sexual orientation, it would create massive controversy and become a massive story.

There are often reports of small hotels, for instance, that ban certain people from staying at their venues, such as the Cornwall hotel which was judged to have acted unlawfully for banning a gay couple from staying in one of its rooms.

So why does golf continue to persist with banning women from many of the most prestigious courses around the world when we are supposed to be in an era of enlightenment?

I was involved in the campaign for sports seeking election to the Olympic Games Programme for 2016 which golf and rugby sevens won convincingly.

For me, golf is a curious sport to have in the Olympic Games because of the lack of accessibility to young or under-privileged people around the world.

While so many sports require limited equipment and costs, while golf requires a level of expenditure and access to clubs that is beyond even many affluent individuals.

In the past week, we have seen Bubba Watson win the US Masters but for me, the enduring memory was the shambolic press conference by Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta, who fluffed his lines when the subject of female exclusion at the club was raised.

Where he could have been a pioneer, he hid behind his members, refusing to take responsibility for an issue he once supported. Seemingly.

Such was the controversy, that President Barack Obama weighed in with his thoughts. It was only a few years ago that the President would also have been barred based on the colour of his skin and then maybe we wouldn't have heard of Tiger Woods.

Sadly there are many clubs in  the UK which follow similar men-only rules and very little has been done to address the issue.

Sport has to be inclusive and build bonds and communities, not be based on exclusion.

Given the prestige that comes with becoming an Olympic sport, IOC President Jacques Rogge should give all golf clubs a time limit to make provisions to allow female members or see golf's Olympic status revoked.

Only by taking such a strong lead can the Olympic Movement show that sport takes a lead in empowering people and promoting equality, respect and comradeship.

Sadly, golf is currently letting the Olympic Movement down.