Royal Troon golf club, hosts of this year’s Open championship, has voted overwhelmingly to admit female members during a special general meeting.
The decision will add further pressure to the men-only club at Muirfield near Edinburgh, which is now the only one of Scotland’s major golfing institutions not to allow women after its members narrowly rejected the move this year.
Royal Troon, a course built among the dunes of Ayrshire’s coast and one of the sport’s most prestigious venues, is to host the 145th Open championship – the UK’s highest profile golfing tournament – in two weeks for the ninth time.
It launched a review of its men-only policy in January last year. At the time it announced it would from a joint championship committee for this month’s Open with the ladies’ golf club at Troon – signalling that it was likely it would become a unisex club.
In a statement after the vote, Dr Martin Cheyne, the Royal Troon’s club captain, said: “We have said a number of times recently that it is important for golf clubs to reflect the society in which we exist and the modern world that looks to us.
“Therefore, I am delighted with the decision taken by members of Royal Troon this evening and look forward to welcoming women to our great club. It is the right decision for the club today and for the generations of golfers that will follow.”
Stephen Anthony, club secretary, said more than 360 of its 600 eligible members voted on Friday. “It was done by a show of hands and it was overwhelmingly positive,” he said. Female golfers would be eligible to apply for membership from Saturday 2 July, he added.
The recent trend among the sport’s elite male-only clubs to admit women began, after years of increasing pressure, when the Royal & Ancient (R&A) in St Andrew’s voted to admit women for the first time in its 260-year history in September 2014.
The R&A has since indicated that Open venues that refuse to admit women as members will no longer be allowed to host the championship, adding to Muirfield’s isolation.
Owned by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, Muirfield faced huge criticism after its members voted by 64% to 36% to allow women members, narrowly failing to meet the 66% threshold needed to change its membership policy.
Its captain, Henry Fairweather, announced on Monday this week that it would like a fresh vote, admitting that May’s decision had damaged the club. “A clear and decisive vote in favour of admitting women as members is required to enable us to begin the task of restoring the reputation of the club,” Fairweather said.
The R&A said it welcomed Royal Troon’s vote. “Our focus today is very much on The 145th Open in just under two weeks’ time but we can now look forward to many more great championships at Royal Troon in years to come,” it said in a statement.
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