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The Masters – A Battle Ground for Golf and Female Inequality

What is it about The Masters? I don’t know but for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on, The Masters has me giddy like a kid on Christmas eve for it’s four day duration, sorry, make that five day duration because I even find myself tuning in to the par 3 competition the day before. This day is a fun event for the players, their families and the many old timers who ruled the game of golf for so many years. The camera’s, on this introductory day at Augusta National, focus not on the golf but the many interactions between the families of the players, the spectator’s and the older generation of individuals who are scattered around the course, all of whom are visibly consumed by the spectacle which everyone is apart of.

It was fantastic witnessing greats of the game like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player knock Drives off the first tee today, straight down the middle if you don’t mind. The respect that past champions, men over the age of 70, are greeted with is nothing short of outstanding, a true tip of the hat to the passed generation that have created the platform with which the field of 2012 will get to enjoy. It’s a rarity in these modern times we live, that maturer generations are such an integral part of proceedings. Its not fake either, its a policy of the club to maintain these precious links with past winners, who they know are still so important to the championship’s history and stature. Its testament to the game of golf that these men are not just invited to the fancy dinners and kept away from the cameras because it is these titans of history, the greatest golfers that have played the game, that bring the unique atmosphere to this tournament that everyone enjoys.

Youngsters also get an opportunity to get acquainted with the famous fairways at Augusta National. Young lads are caddying and fixing the scoreboards, kids and grand kids of the players are running around keeping the parents, spectators and officials busy, and the jovial atmosphere appears to be enjoyed by all. Its marketing at its very best. A true self indulgence of middle America, promoting a lifestyle that many of us would aspire to achieve, and executed with military precision by the big broadcasting networks who beam the images and ideology around the globe. There’s a sense of social inclusion that has been eradicated from pretty much all other sports that receive the same type of viewing figures. I certainly cant think of any other sporting event where a warm up day before the big occasion is so relaxed and unconcerned with the usually polished optics of youth obsessed contemporary television, and it is for this reason that it appears to work so well.

So, why then, are women still not allowed to join the famous golf club as members. I don’t get it. There are more women playing and watching the game of golf than there’s ever been historically. The PR team at The Masters must spend months planning this day, right before the tournament starts, portraying the family unit as the backbone of the American conscience and in reality all it proves is the backwardness of thinking in the state of Georgia. Its interesting that today, President Barack Obama, waded into the argument wielding his support for the 150 million female Americans who dare not fill out an application form for the prestigious golf club. It really is time for the smoking jackets and cigars to be laid down Gentlemen, it’s 2012 don’t you know.

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power.  You just take it”.  ~ Roseanne Barr


In “The Year of The Dragon” Opportunity Beckons

Xi Jingping, vice president of the People’s Republic of China has arrived in Ireland for a three day visit. Having flown into Shannon airport, the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore welcomed the man widely tipped to be the next President of China and leader of the communist state. The trip is being treated as a significant event for Sino-Irish relations, an opportunity for Ireland to boost trade links with the worlds second largest economy and as a chance to “widen and deepen bilateral relations” by improving social and cultural ties.

The Chinese delegation which includes 150 businessmen are expected to sign various trade deals on the visit. Sectors of particular interest include biotechnology, agriculture, communications, food, education and tourism, which could all reap monetary benefits in the future for our ailing economy. The significance of the trip cannot be underestimated as Ireland has been chosen as the only European destination for the tour which includes the United States and Turkey next week.

That is the interesting point after all, why Ireland? Mr Xi has been here before, in the mid nineties he visited as a senior cadre from the boom province of Zhejiang. The Chinese have always been interested in our economic model as they were back then but this trip appears to be something different. From the Irish side, the government are promoting Ireland as a gateway to Europe, a strategic location with access to the worlds largest economy (EU) but one must question what has China to gain from our tiny island with it’s little International relevance.

The answer to that question may lie in our food sector. China feeds 20% of the worlds population, a whopping 1.3 billion people and the demands of their new middle class for high grade protein products, such as milf powder and beef, may prove to be an area where Irish food producing expertise can help with meeting Chinese consumer demand. Last week The US and China signed treaties on sustainable food production, so it would make sense to anticipate an interest in the finest bread basket of Europe, “The Emerald Isle”.

The pharmaceutical industry is also of key importance on this visit. Maintaining large supply’s of technologically advanced medicines will be become extremely important to China’s future. Being the largest holder of foreign cash reserves on the planet, China is a high profile buyer testing the markets, attempting to get bang for their buck and with that in mind, Ireland is a particularly savvy market choice that can deliver quality, price and sustainability in the distribution of high grade pharma-products.

One must also wonder whether Ryanair’s interest in purchasing several hundred Chinese produced Comac planes has anything to do with the visit. Micheal O’Leary has been trumpeting the success and resources deployed by the Chinese government for quite some time now and if his company finalizes the projected deal, it will be a major international achievement for the state run Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. The economic relevance of the visit is enormous, an opportunity the government cannot afford to mess up but there are other issues our political leaders must bring to the forefront in the China conversation.

Human rights campaigning has been a long standing tradition in this country and an area where we have lead by example on the International stage, so it would be misguided to throw this history by the way side in pursuit of political posturing and economic benefit. China has an appalling tradition on human rights issues and it is paramount that the Taoiseach annihilates his political puppetry and spin campaign to the background of this visit and pursues China properly on these issues. Diplomacy in subjects like these is a balancing act that takes skill and shrewdness to maneuver through the traditional and cultural complexities that mark differences of opinion, and if Enda Kenny is worth his salt, he will be acutely aware of this. This is a representational matter for Ireland and a vista where we hold a surprising amount of clout internationally, because of this, our government must persist on the correct form action on human rights issues and not let the carrot lead the stick when it comes to pressing China on crimes against humanity.