Teed Off

Miss Mianne Bagger plays a mean game of golf.

She spent her childhood in England before migrating to Australia where success on the course has made her something of a star. She wants to compete in the British Ladies Open Championship this year. And, you抮e thinking, bully for her!

Or bully for him?

You see, MISS Bagger used to be ... Mr. Bagger, until a sex change operation nine years ago. And his or her case has landed the British ruling body of ladies' golf in a hugely embarrassing legal bunker. Everywhere in the world except America, golf is governed by the 250-year-old traditions of the Royal and Ancient St Andrews club in Scotland. As you might have guessed this club is crustily old-fashioned and totally male-dominated. Even the secretary of the Ladies' club is a man. At St Andrews a woman's place is in the kitchen ... unless called upon to polish up her husband's putter.

This year the Royal and Ancient reluctantly altered its rules to allow women onto important committees. But it was a completely empty gesture. No self-respecting woman would dare to apply!

But Miss Bagger, perhaps because she used to be Mr Bagger, is made of sterner stuff. She intends to fill in the entry form for the British Ladies' Open and face the mighty masculine wrath of the Royal and Ancient. The club vows it will do everything in its power to stop her. In doing so they could fall foul of a new law currently going through our legislative process. The Gender Recognition Bill will give transsexuals equal rights. Which means Tiger Woods can play with the ladies ... and Tigress Woods with the men.

But the Royal and Ancient is fighting on the fairways. Teams of male attorneys are ready to tee off in a case that will prove who wears the trousers, and what's really underneath them.
By Ed Boyle