YOU wouldn’t think a place that for centuries has been home to the “Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers” could possibly get stuck in the past but that has been the recent history of Muirfield.
In 2016 a membership vote to admit female members failed to reach the required two thirds majority and the R&A subsequently struck the famed links venue from the Open Championship rota.
Now the current members of what is claimed to be the oldest verifiable organised golf club in the world have had another go and in a 80.2% verdict voted to admit female members for the first time. (There were 621 votes cast in a 92.7% turnout of eligible voters.)
The R&A has immediately lifted the British Open ban and that will see Muirfield advance past its current record of 16 championsips, most recently the 2013 version won by Phil Mickelson.
“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,” Muirfield club captain Henry Fairweather commented.
“We look forward to welcoming women as members who will enjoy, and benefit from, the great traditions and friendly spirit of this remarkable club.”
Whilst the change will come into force immediately the actual first female member isn’t expected for at least a couple of years due to the club’s long waiting list and lengthy membership process.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers commented:
“It is extremely important for us in staging one of the world’s great sporting events that women can become members at all our host clubs.”
“Muirfield is a truly outstanding Open venue and we very much look forward to taking the championship there in future,” he said.
UK Sports Minister Tracey Crouch congratulated the club and said it was important for sport to promote equality.
“The decision has been a long time coming and it was right that the R&A made clear to Muirfield that the Open Championship would only be hosted at clubs that allow women members,” she said.
“Golf has the potential to attract a more diverse audience to the game and this decision sends out an important message.”