After the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers voted to overturn its men-only policy, Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland for the first time in its 273-year history will admit women as members.
“This is a significant decision for a club which was founded in 1744 and retains many of the values and aspirations of its founding members,” club captain Henry Fairweather said. “We look forward to welcoming women as members who will enjoy, and benefit from, the great traditions and friendly spirit of this remarkable club.”
After The Royal & Ancient, which runs golf’s oldest major championship, stripped Muirfield from the British Open Championship rota in 2016 for its politically incorrect practice, members responded by voting an impressive 80% to finally let women grace their links as members.
Although the vote to allow women as members was passed, the fairer sex won’t be teeing it up for some time. The club also voted that potential female members will be subject to the same long waiting line as men, which typically takes two to three years.
“Our members were quite clear that they wanted women to be treated, not in any artificial way, but to go through the same admissions process as men,” Fairweather said. “That means it will take a little time for women to become members.
“We’ve got quite a complicated admissions process and we have a waiting list. They don’t apply, they have to be proposed and seconded by members, but anybody who is interested in becoming a member of Muirfield, I would say: ‘Go for it.’”
With the approval of women members, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers stated that the club is again eligible to host the prestigious tournament. “It is extremely important for us in staging one of the world’s great sporting events that women can become members at all our host clubs.
“Muirfield is a truly outstanding Open venue and we very much look forward to taking the championship there in future,” Slumbers said.
Last year, the BBC reported that Muirfield came close to admitting women golfers as members, but after a “comprehensive” two-year consultation process, fell just short of the two-thirds vote it needed to pass the edict.
According to the Daily Mail, a 2013 Open study estimated that the tournament was worth about £70million to the local East Lothian economy and the business community.
Muirfield has hosted the Open Championship sixteen times, including in 2013 when Phil Mickelson took home the Claret Jug. Ernie Els, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Walter Hagen, and Harry Vardon have all won the Open on the sacred ground. Nick Faldo and Vardon contemporary James Braid are the only British Open champions to win twice at Muirfield.
The earliest that the R&A will call upon Muirfield to host the Open is 2022.