BROOKLINE, Mass. -- A golf club scheduled to be the site of the Ryder Cup did not admit women until 1989 and had no black members until 1990, problems that have interrupted negotiations for town land it needs for tournament parking and hospitality tents.
Complaints against The Country Club, scheduled to hold the tournament Sept. 24-26, 1999, have stalled the talks with town officials, although authorities on both sides say that doesn't mean a deal isn't possible.
"They don't want to hear anything that might threaten the Ryder Cup deal, whether it's about race or anything else," Dan Miranda, a member of the now-disbanded town negotiating committee, told The Boston Globe. "We don't want it threatened either. We want to see the Ryder Cup come, but there are some unpopular issues to be confronted in the process."
The committee, which had been created to negotiate with the club, disbanded after questions were raised about the details of the deal and the club's racial and ethnic makeup.
Members, including Miranda, wanted the club to disclose membership practices to ensure compliance with Professional Golf Association's guidelines, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, creed, ethnicity or gender.
But a club official said Sunday that the membership issues raised by opponents are irrelevant to the tournament negotiations.
"We're trying to build something positive here for the town and with the town, " said David Chag, the club's general manager and chief operating officer. "What's relevant is that PGA clubs cannot be discriminatory, and we're not. We do not discriminate."
The proposed deal calls for an exchange of parking spots on town land for an estimated $3 million generated by corporate hospitality tents at the town-owned Putterham Meadows Golf Course, adjacent to The Country Club.
But some subcommittee members raised concerns that the town, by entering into an agreement with the club, would risk too much by assuming that hospitality tents would provide adequate reimbursement for private use and possible damage to the town's park lands.
"The Country Club is willing to work with a committee to find ways to strengthen the relationship (with the town)," said Donna Kalikow, a member of the town's board of selectmen. "To say that just because they're not working on it right now means that they're not willing is a distortion of the facts."