R&A allows women members after overwhelming 'yes' vote

Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:59pm EDT
 
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By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - After 260 years of exclusion, women will be allowed to join the Royal and Ancient golf club after an overwhelming members' vote opened the doors to the famous St Andrews clubhouse and paved the way for them to play a role in the governance of the game.

More than 75 percent of the club's 2,400 worldwide members, voting in person and via proxy and postal votes, took part and 85 percent were in favor of the change.

"This vote has immediate effect and I can confirm that The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is now a mixed membership club," R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said in statement on Thursday.

"This is a very important and positive day in the history of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club."

Founded in 1754, the Royal and Ancient's members play on the St Andrews links course regarded as the "home of golf" and host to the British Open a record 28 times.

Although women have been able to play on the course, which staged the women's British Open last year, they were, until Thursday's vote, generally not allowed in the clubhouse and played no significant part in the sport's rulemaking arm, the R&A.

That body, separated from the club 10 years ago, controls golf around the world apart from in the United States and Mexico, runs the British Open and is made up almost entirely of R&A club members.

As recently as last year Dawson said he did not feel there was a need for change but, in the face of sustained criticism and rising concern from sponsors, the R&A announced in March that it would ballot its members and recommend a yes vote.   Continued...

 
A St. Andrews souvenir golf ball is seen on a golf course in London June 11, 2014.  REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett