London - The
prestigious Muirfield golf course in Scotland voted on Tuesday to admit
women members to the club after 273 years, immediately making the
historic venue eligible to host the British Open again
The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers overwhelmingly voted in
favour of admitting women members for the first time by 498 to 123, club
captain Henry Fairweather said.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A), the sport's
joint-governing body with the United States Golf Association, said
Muirfield could now become a venue for the British Open once again.
Fairweather said: "This is a significant decision for a club which
was founded in 1744 and retains many of the values and aspirations of
its founding members.
"The rules of the club will be changed accordingly with immediate effect.
"We look forward to welcoming women as members who will enjoy, and
benefit from, the great traditions and friendly spirit of this
The Honourable Company is one of the oldest golf clubs in the world
and its Muirfield course, east of Edinburgh, is world famous.
Women have played golf at Muirfield since 1904, though only as guests, not as members.
The club said the current waiting list suggested that new candidates
for membership could expect to wait two to three years, or longer, to
join the club.
Muirfield has staged the Open on 16 occasions since 1892 and most recently in 2013.
It was due to host the Open again in 2023 but the R&A dropped it
from its 10-course venue roster after a vote last year failed to permit
women members, falling short of the two-thirds majority required to
change the rules.
The British Open is the oldest of golf's four annual majors, dating back to 1860.
"Muirfield has a long and important history of hosting The Open and
with today's announcement that will continue," said R&A chief
executive Martin Slumbers.
"It is extremely important for us in staging one of the world's great
sporting events that women can become members at all of our host
"Muirfield is a truly outstanding Open venue and we very much look forward to taking the Championship back there in future."
Women's and men's single-sex golf clubs, although reducing in number,
have been a feature of golf provision in Great Britain and Ireland and
comply with equality legislation.
Ivan Khodabakhsh, the Ladies European Tour's chief executive, said
Tuesday's vote would "begin to restore the reputation" of Muirfield
following last year's ballot.
"Sports reflect the values of the society in which we live and today
men and women have equal rights. We believe this should be reflected not
only in top-level international tournaments but also at club level," he
Muirfield is the
last of the clubs on the Open roster - five in Scotland, four in
England and one in Northern Ireland -- to permit women members.
In 2014, St Andrews chose to admit female members for the first time
after 260 years, with Royal St George's in Kent following suit in 2015.
Royal Troon, which hosted the 2016 Open, voted in July last year to
admit women members, in the wake of the R&A's decision over
Troon had previously considered itself a special case because it shares facilities with The Ladies Golf Club, Troon.
Britain's sports minister Tracey Crouch said Muirfield's decision had been a long time coming.
"Golf has the potential to attract a more diverse audience to the
game and this decision sends out an important message. It is vital clubs
and sports organisations play their part in promoting equality," she
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Well done, Muirfield
- decision to admit women members emphatic and the right one."
Scotland's top female player Catriona Matthew called it a "positive step" for Muirfield and golf as a whole.
Golf was first played at the prestigious course in 1891. A round costs visitors £235 (R3 750).