Golf: Muirfield loses the Open after declining to let women join club

LONDON (REUTERS) - Muirfield will be removed from the list of courses that host Britain's Open golf championship, after a vote to admit women members fell short of the required two-thirds majority, the Royal and Ancient said on Thursday.

Muirfield last hosted the tournament in 2013, when Phil Mickelson won, but it might be a while before it returns.

"We have consistently said that it is a matter for the Honourable Company to conduct a review of its membership policy and that we would await their decision," the R&A, organisers of the sport's oldest major championship, said in a statement.

"The R&A has considered today's decision with respect to The Open Championship. The Open is one of the world's great sporting events and going forward we will not stage the Championship at a venue that does not admit women as members."

Royal Troon, which hosts this year's tournament in July, is now the only Open venue not to permit women members.

But the Royal and Ancient Golf Club - which used to run the Open until the R&A was split off from the club in 2004 - only admitted its first women members last year.

Muirfield, close to Edinburgh, is controlled by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and has retained a male-only membership policy since it was founded in 1744.

The R&A said Muirfield could be considered again if the membership policy is brought into line with other Open courses.

"If the policy at the club should change we would reconsider Muirfield as a venue for The Open in future," it said.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon supported the R&A's stance on Muirfield.

"Scotland has women leaders in every walk of life. It is 2016. This is simply indefensible," she said on Twitter.