Golf: Royal St George's votes in female members

LONDON (AFP) - British Open golf championship venue Royal St George's in Sandwich, south-east England, announced on Wednesday that it has voted to admit female members for the first time in its 128-year history.

The move by Royal St George's, which last hosted the Open in 2011, leaves Scottish courses Muirfield and Royal Troon as the only ones on the 10-course Open rota to have male-only membership rules.

"The Royal St George's Golf Club is pleased to announce that, following an extraordinary general meeting held on 14th February 2015 and a subsequent ballot of the full members of the club, a resolution to alter the club's rules to make ladies eligible for membership has been duly passed," the club announced in a statement.

"Under the club's rules, the resolution would only be passed if it obtained the support of three-quarters of the votes cast on the ballot. More than 81 per cent of the full members took part in the ballot and a decisive 90 per cent voted in favour of ladies being eligible for membership.

"The alteration of the club's rules has immediate effect and the club looks forward to welcoming ladies as junior and full members."

Muirfield, owned and run by The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, is due to release a review of its membership policy later this month, while Troon said in January that it would undertake a "comprehensive review" of its membership criteria.

Troon is in a slightly different position to its fellow Open venues as it shares facilities with the Ladies Golf Club, Troon, which is due to share the responsibility of hosting the Open in 2016.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews sparked a re-evaluation of membership policies among Britain's grandest clubs after voting to end its 260-year-old male-only membership policy in September.

The issue of female membership of exclusive golf clubs was also a hot topic in the United States leading to Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters tournament, allowing its first two female members in August 2012.