Women Score Win In Golf Club Battle

by Jane McHugh, Bowie Blade-News, 11/9/95

The Woodmore Country Club has agreed to upgrade its membership policy toward women, nearly 11/2 years after 14 female club members filed a complaint with the state government alleging sex discrimination.

The club president recently signed a legal agreement offering women the same membership benefits to which men are always entitled.

"They gave us everything we wanted," said Linda Hitt Thatcher, the lawyer representing the female complainants.

The Mitchellville club has 500 members, half of whom are women. All but a handful of the women were associate members rather than full members.

The difference between the two membership classifications was significant.

Full members were stock holders having the right to vote. They also had better tee times for golfing mainly mornings on Saturdays and Sundays.

Associate members, on the other hand, had no voting rights, were not stock holders and had unequal access to weekend tee times.

Full members were generally male, whereas associate members were females. This distinction developed because entire families joining the club felt compelled to put full membership in the man's, or husband's, name.

The consent decree eliminated associate membership.

Signatories were club President Glen Morrison, Assistant Maryland Attorney General David Lyon and two female club members.

Morrison could not be reached for comment.

Hitt Thatcher was jubilant. "The women now feel empowered," she said. "This should be a wake-up call for all other country clubs in Maryland."

Since filing the complaint against Woodmore, female members of two other Maryland country clubs-Manor in Rockville and Bethesda in Chevy Chase- have retained Hitt Thatcher to represent them in discrimination complaints.

"The other clubs should look to Woodmore as an example of how a country club can be run free of discrimination," she said. "I'm glad it all worked out."