Masters chairman set to vote for women at Royal and Ancient

Wed Apr 9, 2014 1:32pm EDT
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By Julian Linden

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Two years after Augusta National Golf Club finally agreed to allow women to join its membership, the club's chairman hinted he would vote to support a move to include female members to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

Recognized as the spiritual home of golf and guardian of the rules of the game since 1754, St Andrews has come under increasing fire for excluding women members.

But things could finally change in September when the club's 2,500 members will decide whether to open its doors to everyone after operating as a men-only institution for 260 years.

The vote comes just two years after Augusta National, the home of the Masters, finally ended its all-male policy by admitting former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore as members.

And now Payne, who oversaw the decision to let women join Augusta National, gave a clear indication on Wednesday of how he would vote when the secret ballot takes place later this year.

"Well, I'm proud to be a member of the R&A and I bet you can guess how I'm going to vote," he told a news conference on the eve of the 78th Masters.

"Other than that, I would respect their process, their requirement to conduct a vote, and so the process will culminate in a decision.

"And as I've said, I know where one vote is going to be cast."   Continued...