And 260 years later…R&A Golf Club is set to allow women members
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club has announced it will recommend women to finally be allowed to walk its hallowed halls and join the club…260 years after it was founded.
It may have taken a long time, but the club is said to be “strongly in favour” of the rule change and is asking its 2,400 existing members to vote positively for women to join.
The historic vote will take place on September 18 and requires a two-third majority for it to be passed.
"Members of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the founding club of The R&A, will vote on a motion to admit women as members,” a spokesperson for The Royal and Ancient Golf Club said.
"The Club's committees are strongly in favour of the rule change and are asking members to support it. The vote is scheduled to take place in September of this year,” they added.
The move follows intense scrutiny placed upon the golf club, especially during The Open Championship at Muirfield last year, when ex-sports minister Hugh Robertson and culture secretary Maria Miller turned down invitations to attend Muirfield, one of the three courses on the nine-strong Open rota to not allow female members.
Speaking on Wednesday, Minister for Sport and Equalities Helen Grant said: "This is welcome news from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and I urge its members to follow their Committees' recommendations and vote 'yes' for women members.
"It would mark a step in the right direction for the sport and I would hope encourage the remaining golf clubs that still have anachronistic single-sex member policies to follow suit."
Peter Dawson, R&A chief executive, expressed his delight at the news but fell short of answering questions relating to what it meant for Open Championship venues.
"We very much hope once the vote is taken we will be welcoming women to the club," Dawson said. "It's something that has been expected; I'm not going to say overdue but I'm sure I'll be asked that question.
"Early indications from the members are very positive indeed. We have been talking about this for quite a while and it's our governance role which has been the driving factor.
"Society is changing, sport is changing, golf is changing and I think it's appropriate for a governing body to take this step. This is not about the Open Championship. This is about our governance role.
"We have been entirely focused on this internal change and I have absolutely nothing to announce about Open Championship policy. We have given the clubs advanced notice out of courtesy."