A FORMER Wirral police officer claims that a local golf club has refused his membership numerous times due to his tattoo.

Charles Roughley, from Pensby, said he has applied twice to join Heswall Golf Club but has had his application refused due to a skull tattoo on the back of his head.

The retired 66-year-old got the tattoo 10 years ago to hide medical scarring. Despite the body modification, Charles said that he has played at the club on "multiple occasions" as a guest. However, when he has tried to apply for a membership, he has been unsuccessful.

Wirral Globe: Charles Roughley, 66, from Pensby says he has been left feeling embarrassed and upset after having his application refused from Heswall Golf ClubCharles Roughley, 66, from Pensby says he has been left feeling embarrassed and upset after having his application refused from Heswall Golf Club (Image: NQ)

He told the Globe: “Being bald I tried to eradicate the scars using various treatments but unfortunately none of them worked and the scars wouldn’t go away so when I retired, I decided to get the tattoo.

“Historically when I was still in the police, we used to have a golf society and we would play regular matches at Heswall Golf Club. I’m a keen golfer and I’ve played at the club many times.

“All my friends in the area are all members of the golf club so I thought I could apply for a membership and spend the rest of my retirement playing golf with them.”

In June 2019, Charles attended his first interview at the club after being proposed by two of his friends.

He said: “I waited for a decision to be made by the club’s committee and was told in my feedback that I had been successful but was on a waiting list.”

Charles says he waited two years before he heard anything back from the club.

“Eventually my friends who proposed me made some enquiries at the club and it transpired that the committee had actually refused my membership and said they had written to me, but I never received a letter and neither did my friends.

“So, they essentially put me on hold for two years without telling me.”

Wirral Globe: The skull tattoo on the back of Charles' headThe skull tattoo on the back of Charles' head (Image: NQ)

In July 2021, a letter was sent to the club from members vouching for Charles' personality and supporting his application. As a result, Charles was offered a second interview.

He said: “They said I was unsuccessful and had refused my application again. The feedback I got from my friends who are at the club was that I had been refused because of my tattoo and that some council members found it offensive.”

Charles said he has been left feeling “upset and disgusted” as a result of the club’s decision.

He said: “I am a man of good character, and I am well known in the area so I am very embarrassed that the club has refused me. All of my friends play there and it denies me the opportunity to play golf with them for the next 15 years.

“I usually get lots of compliments about my tattoo mainly by the younger generation so it might be something that the older generation at the club doesn’t particularly like.

“Other members have tattoos on their body so it’s not like they have a no tattoo policy.”

Since having his application refused, Charles said he is no longer allowed to enter the club.

He said: “I have played at Heswall before, I’ve been signed in as a guest when I’ve played with my friends while I’ve had the tattoo and there’s never been any complaints about my presence.

“I’ve been to other private clubs, and I’m always made very welcome, and they have no problem with me playing golf there.

“I did ask the club for feedback as to why they refused my membership, and I received a letter to say they were not obliged to give any feedback so now I can’t even enter the club as a guest because I’ve been refused membership.

“My friend who owns a company is having a corporate fundraising day there for Claire House and the club won’t let me play in it. I am particularly upset and annoyed at their attitude because it’s a charity event that anyone is supposed to be allowed to play at. It’s quite bizarre.”

A spokesperson for Heswall Golf Club told the Globe: “Heswall Golf Club welcomes membership applications from new and existing golfers of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, and is aware of its obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

"All applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, and on occasions membership may be refused. As a private members club, the club is under no obligation to detail the reasons why membership has been refused, either to the applicant or third party. 

“In reaching its decisions, the club does not ‘discriminate’ against who it admits as a member. Specifically, the club does not operate a ‘no-tattoo’ policy, and in fact many existing members do have tattoos. 

“The club constitution also clearly stipulates that anyone who has been refused membership may not be admitted to the club as a visitor or guest, including to play golf.”