The Royal and Ancient, the governing body of golf’s oldest major championship, eliminated historic Muirfield from the British Open rota after the golf club voted against allowing women to join as members.
The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns Muirfield, failed to muster a two-thirds vote to change the membership policy to include women, reported ESPN.
The R&A released a statement which reads:
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 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.
“Given the schedule for staging The Open, it would be some years before Muirfield would have been considered to host the Championship again. If the policy at the club should change we would reconsider Muirfield as a venue for The Open in future.
Golfers will tee it up for the 145th Open championship at Royal Troon in July, which has separate men’s and women’s clubs. They are considering changing that policy to align themselves more with the other clubs in the rotation.
A group of Muirfield members issued a statement that they may need to alter their ways in the future, but aren’t ready to make the transition yet. “A traditional resistance to change is one of the foundations of our unique position in golf and our reputation.”
Many criticized Muirfield’s male-only policy in 2013, including Prime Minister David Cameron, the last time the club hosted the Open championship, when Phil Mickelson took home the claret jug. Other past winners at the famous venue include a veritable “who’s who” of golf: Walter Hagen, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, and Ernie Els.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews welcomed women as members in 2014 for the first time in 260 years. On the other side of the pond, Augusta National, the home of the Masters, allowed women to join the club in 2012.