February 19 - 1914: "Cape Cod Ditch" 75% complete

2008: Dennis Golf Club sued for gender discrimination
The dredge Governor Herrick working in the land cut of the canal in 1914. Credit USACE.

1914: Cape Cod Canal construction almost finished, may open in 6 months

On this day in 1914 as reported by The McKean (Pa.) Democrat under the headline:

New Canal Nearly Cut - Small Craft Will Be Allowed to Pass Through Cape Cod Ditch Shortly

Sandwich, Mass. - The Cape Cod Canal is likely to be open for small craft within six months. This six-mile ditch connecting Cape Cod Bay with Buzzards Bay is 75 percent completed, according to the engineers, and it is believed that the waters of the two bays will meet the coming summer.

When first opened the canal will not be sufficiently deep to admit coastwise vessels, but power boats and other small craft will be allowed to go through. Already several New England yacht clubs are planning cruises with the canal passage in view.

Two big dredges that entered the canal, one at each end, are now within 8,000 feet of each other in Bournedale. Between them, for nearly a mile, is a fifteen-foot trench which will be flooded when the dredges cut the barriers.

The canal officially opened five months later on July 29, 1914.

2008: Woman sues golf club as a deterrent to other towns & clubs  

Thirty-five years after Billie Jean King -- Elaine Joyce

On this day in 2008 local golfer Elaine Joyce sued in federal court to have her way on the golf courses of Dennis and beyond.

"This isn't just about Dennis Pines or Dennis Highlands," said Joyce, 43, "and this isn't about money," she added. "I filed this lawsuit to fix things for women who have been discriminated against for a long time. By making an example out of Dennis, I hope the action serves as a deterent to other towns and other clubs that if you behave badly there is a price to pay, and it's a hefty price."

"About 20 people who work for the town of Dennis from the town administrator to the golf commission to the golf director and the pro, they all got it wrong," Joyce said, despite her having met personally with several of them in an attempt to iron things at the course, not the court.

The straw that broke this camel's back 

The straw that broke the camel's back came the previous summer when she was not allowed to join her father as his partner in a men's tournament. That morning she was directed by a town employee to consider that the town has changed its policy for this upcoming season, and now calls the tournament simply a member-member, gender neutral, and cites the USGA for its interpretation of what that means.

In any event, this new policy toward women, if that's what it is, does nothing to mollify Joyce, who is pursuing damages based on past conduct, not future behavior, and has named the town administrator and all the top golf officials past and present who had a hand in the decision last season to disallow her from playing in a men's tournament, and to segregate men and women in other realms of the tee-time and tournament system.  She has the game for any league, as a 3-handicap, and says her goal is to be able to freely associate with better talent as a basic tenet of all competitive athletes.

A top woman's competitor 

A software designer who is single and lives in Yarmouth Port, Joyce is a resident member of the Dennis municipal golf at Pines and Highland by dint of her trusteeship in a Dennis property. A graduate of Dennis-Yarmouth High, same as LPGA great Sally Quinlan, Golfweek editor Jeff Babineau and Brad Eaton (see above), Joyce has a few Top 5 finishes in WGAM events and roughly 20 club championships between Dennis and the courses of Yarmouth, Bayberry Hills and Bass River especially.

Not her first turf war 

Ten years ago, Joyce said she fought a similar battle in Yarmouth over her ability to play with the block-tee-time blessed Forty Thieves. Not only could she not, they determined in a 39-1 vote, they changed their name to the Forty Thieves Men's League.

Then, however, she took her battle to Town Hall and convinced the town counsel and town administrator in Yarmouth that women deserved access to more or less whatever they wanted if the alternative is to discriminate against them just because they are women.

"But the people in Dennis ignored the example set by Yarmouth and that's why the issue must be forced, not just for these towns and clubs on the Cape, but everywhere," said Karen Schwartzman, a public relations specialist working for the lawyers who filed suit in Boston.

Thirty-five years after Billie Jean King - Elaine Joyce

Thirty-five years after Billie Jean King showed the world what a chauvinist pig that Bobby Riggs was, Elaine Joyce has taken the baton. Stay tuned. This could get interesting.

(Above: Elaine Joyce at the Dennis Pines Golf Course. Image courtesy of Polaris Public Relations.)


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