Phil Mickelson finds Butler National's all-male membership 'disappointing'

Asked to name a Chicago-area course that would top his list to host a major championship, Phil Mickelson did not hesitate.

"Butler National is the best I've seen in the area," he told the Tribune. "I haven't played some great courses like Shoreacres, but Shoreacres is an older course that length-wise might not hold up to the modern players.


"But Butler National is every bit as challenging as what you'll see on the PGA Tour. It could hold a major in a matter of a week, given the proper notice. It is truly special, and what makes it so special are the subtleties. It's not in-your-face overly dramatic; it is subtle and the shot values are a 10 throughout the entire golf course."

While riding on a Metra train Monday to Olympia Fields, site of this week's KPMG Women's PGA Championship, Mickelson was half-jokingly asked if he could compel Butler National officials to add some female members.


The club's exclusionary membership policy is why it lost the Western Open after 1990 and why ruling bodies such as the USGA and PGA of America will not award it a major. Butler National members voted in 2012 on whether to open membership to women, and sources told the Tribune at the time that fewer than 40 percent were in favor.

Butler National is one of four all-male golf clubs in the area, along with Bob O'Link, Old Elm and Black Sheep. But of those, only Butler National, because of its central location in Oak Brook and surrounding acreage, would be fit to host a major or PGA Tour event.

"I didn't realize that's what is holding it back," Mickelson said. "That's disappointing because in this day and age, exclusion just isn't the right way to go about it. I would love to see them be more inclusive in their policies, but it's not for me to interfere in any private club.

"But it is disappointing because that will prevent it from holding some big tournament at a truly spectacular venue."

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