NEW YORK (AFP) - Pine Valley Golf Club, a men-only private enclave since its founding in 1913, has voted to allow women memberships and unrestricted play, Golf Digest reported on Saturday (May 1).
The club, located in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia, has a layout that Golf Digest has ranked as the top course in the United States, and among the world's best, for several years.
Pine Valley president Jim Davis wrote in a Friday e-mail to members obtained by the magazine about the unanimous move by the club's trustees and members to bring in female members and allow them to play at any time.
Previously, women were only allowed on the course as guests and on Sunday afternoons.
"This evening at our annual meeting of the members we made a historic change to Pine Valley's bylaws," Davis wrote.
"The future of golf must move towards inclusion, and I am pleased to report that the trustees and members of the Pine Valley Golf Club have voted unanimously and with enthusiasm to remove all gender-specific language from our bylaws.
"The club's policies will now allow all guests to enjoy our club without restrictions and we will begin immediately identifying women candidates for membership with the expectation of having our first women members in the club by the end of this year."
Davis said all prospective members must "be socially compatible, share a deep passion for the game of golf and be able to play the golf course with the skill level our founder George Crump intended."
Pine Valley follows several notable men-only private clubs in changing rules to allow women.
Augusta National, home course for the Masters, welcomed its first women members in 2012. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in Scotland allowed women members in 2014 and Muirfield began accepting women members in 2017.
The magazine said that of 3,670 private US golf clubs, fewer than a dozen remain male-only enclaves.