Female golfers of the world! It is certainly time to rejoice! One of the oldest golfing clubs in the world has made a historic move by overturning it’s longstanding Men-Only policy. The members deliberated and voted on the day of March 14, 2017.
Muirfield–The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG), was founded in 1744. It has been 273 years since then and it is this year that they decided to get rid of the antiquated rule. It is said that this deliberation was done in the aftermath of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews’ (R&A) decision to remove Muirfield as a host venue for the Open Championship as the club had retained the men-only rule in 2016.
The R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers has commented that the club would once again be reinstated as an Open venue after their successful historic vote.
The members of the privately-owned club voted a resounding 80.2% in favor of updating their membership policy. Now, women are able to join the ranks of this established club after a vote of 498 to 123.
The Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, applauded the inclusive decision through tweeting: “Well done, Muirfield–decision to admit women members emphatic & the right one. Looking forward to seeing you host the Open again in the future.”
The British Open is the oldest of golf’s four annual majors, dating back to 1860. Women’s and men’s single-sex golf clubs, although reducing in number, have been a feature of golf provision in Great Britain and Ireland and comply with equality legislation.
Ivan Khodabakhsh, the Ladies European Tour’s chief executive, said Tuesday’s vote would “begin to restore the reputation” of Muirfield following last year’s ballot. “Sports reflect the values of the society in which we live and today men and women have equal rights. We believe this should be reflected not only in top-level international tournaments but also at club level,” he said.
Scotland’s minister for sport, Aileen Campbell, was quoted saying that the decision was in keeping with a modern country that sought to promote gender equality. “Scotland is a modern country that wants to see gender equality become the norm across all parts of society and today’s decision is another step forward in the journey,” she says.
Britain’s sports minister Tracey Crouch said Muirfield’s decision had been a long time coming. “Golf has the potential to attract a more diverse audience to the game and this decision sends out an important message. It is vital clubs and sports organisations play their part in promoting equality,” she said.
Muirfield had previously drawn frowns and condemnation all over the world as they sustained their men-only policy for so long. As of 2016, Muirfield had remained one of Scotland’s last men-only clubs.
Now that the antiquated rule has been lifted, can we expect to see women members to the club post haste? Not yet, according to Muirfield. In a statement, HCEG said: “The current waiting list for membership at Muirfield suggests that new candidates for membership -men and women- can expect to wait two to three years, or longer, to become members of the club.”
Baby steps, then. The important thing that now women can be included in the wait list. Scotland’s top female player Catriona Matthew called it a “positive step” for Muirfield and golf as a whole.
So, we’re definitely feeling the victory for women and the sport itself. Good job, Muirfield!