Muirfield invites 12 women to join as members after change

LONDON • Muirfield has invited women to join as members for the first time in its 275-year history, two years after a vote to change the club's all-male policy.

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG), based in East Lothian, Scotland, invited 12 women and three men for membership from July 1.

The club voted in 2017 to admit women, scrapping a policy that led to the historic Scottish links course being stripped of its eligibility to host The Open Championship by St Andrews-based organising body The R&A.

HCEG captain Alistair Campbell said in a statement: "This marks a milestone in the club's illustrious history and we look forward to welcoming all of our new members to share in the great values and traditions of our club."

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the spiritual home of golf and one of the sport's primary seats of power, had in 2014 voted overwhelmingly to admit women and that set in motion Muirfield's change.

Muirfield, founded in 1744, required two-thirds of its eligible voters to support the move.

In 2016, only 64 per cent did but, a year later, there was around 80 per cent backing from a total of 621 votes.

Individuals who are invited to become members must first be proposed and seconded by existing members and five referees.

The club's membership is then invited to write in support, or otherwise, of those put forward with the same process being followed for both men and women.

"This year marks the 275th anniversary of the club's first recorded golf competition," Campbell added.

"We are proud of our club's rich history but equally excited for its future and the part all of our new members will play in the club's cherished traditions."

Earlier in April, 72 competitors made history in the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship at Augusta National Golf Club, the traditional site of the Masters tournament.

It was a significant move for the club, who did not flinch even when facing a 2003 protest over its lack of female members.

It waited until August 2012 before then United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and American businesswoman Darla Moore broke the gender barrier at the club.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2019, with the headline 'Muirfield invites 12 women to join as members after change'. Print Edition | Subscribe