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2020 Olympic golf course changes membership policy

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TOKYO (AP) — The course that will host the 2020 Olympic golf tournament has decided to change its membership policy to include women.

The Kasumigaseki Country Club said Monday its executive board decided on the change after discussions among its members. The membership policy came under scrutiny when Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike urged it to admit women as full members.

Other critics said the club’s policy was contrary to the spirit of the Olympics.

Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, welcomed the change.

“I’d like to extend my gratitude to the members of the club for their understanding and cooperation,” Mori said in a statement.

The club’s policy had excluded women from full-fledged membership but not from playing or other types of membership.

Founded in 1929 as a private club, Kasumigaseki is one of Japan’s oldest and most prestigious golf clubs. Within a few years of its opening, the club started allowing female players. Some Japanese clubs still bar women from playing.

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IOC VP: Tokyo Olympic golf course must admit female members

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TOKYO (AP) — The club that is set to host the 2020 Olympic golf tournament must change its policy of excluding women as full members or the event will go elsewhere, IOC vice president John Coates said Thursday.

Coates, in Tokyo for a two-day coordination commission meeting, said some progress has been made on the issue but that the International Olympic Committee can only wait so long.

“At some point there has to be a cut off,” Coates said. “Image wise, our position is clear. We will only go to a club that has nondiscrimination.”

Kasumigaseki Country Club board members met last month to discuss the issue but so far have failed to make a decision about changing their policy.

The issue surfaced in mid-January when Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike urged Kasumigaseki to admit women as full members. Following that, the IOC inquired about the club’s membership practice.

“It’s possible to go elsewhere, but I think this is going to work,” Coates said. “It’s heading in the right direction for them to have a nondiscriminatory membership procedure. It would appear that we would have this result by the end of June.”

Founded in 1929 as a private club funded by about 300 wealthy men, Kasumigaseki is one of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in the country and has hosted more top level tournaments than any other Japanese course.

To join Kasumigaseki, an applicant needs to obtain a reference from a current member and pay 8 million yen ($70,800) to become a regular member first, then pay additional 4 million yen ($35,400) to be a full member.

The club does not allow women to become full members or play on Sundays.

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Watch Michael Phelps play raucous 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale

Michael Phelps
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Not even Michael Phelps‘ famous Condor Flap arm swings could calm him down before playing at the loudest venue in golf — the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.

Phelps came up a bit short on his wedge shot during a pro-am at the Waste Management Open on Wednesday. Phelps, who lives in nearby Paradise Valley, Ariz., was playing with fellow Under Armour athlete Jordan Spieth at the event.

Phelps live streamed his 16th hole experience on his Facebook page.

Phelps has plenty of golf experience, playing in a European Tour pro-am, Michael Jordan‘s Celebrity Invitational and a celebrity match at last year’s Ryder Cup (where he also did the Condor Flap). He also appeared on Golf Channel’s “The Haney Project” with famed instructor Hank Haney.

He is best known in golf for recording, reportedly, the longest televised holed putt, a 153-footer at the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

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