Muirfield has been placed back in the British Open rota after the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers voted overwhelming in favor of allowing women members for the first time in the club’s 273-history.
After a postal ballot, 498 members (80.2 percent) voted in favor of allowing women to join the club, while 123 (19.8 percent) voted against. In total, 621 members cast ballots, a turnout of 92.7 percent.
“This is a significant decision for a club which was founded in 1744 and retains many of the values and aspirations of its founding members,” Muirfield’s club captain Henry Fairweather said. “We look forward to welcoming women as members who will enjoy, and benefit from, the great traditions and friendly spirit of this remarkable club.”
There is no timetable for women to join the club. In an official statement the club said: “The current waiting list for membership at Muirfield suggests that new candidates for membership, women and men, can expect to wait two to three years, or longer, to become a member of the club.”
The vote overturns a similar ballot held last year when women narrowly missed out on being allowed to join. Members voted 64 percent in favor last May, but missed the target of two thirds, or 66 percent, for the motion to be passed. The club announced last June it would seek another vote on the issue after the R&A took Muirfield off the Open Championship rota.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers quickly removed the course from the Open rota after last year’s vote, and was just as quick to place it back in the loop after today’s vote.
“In light of today’s decision by the Honourable Company we can confirm that Muirfield will become a venue for The Open once again,” Slumbers said. “Muirfield has a long and important history of hosting The Open and with today’s announcement that will continue. It is extremely important for us in staging one of the world’s great sporting events that women can become members at all of our host clubs. Muirfield is a truly outstanding Open venue and we very much look forward to taking the Championship back there in future.”
The Ladies European Tour welcomed the Honourable Company’s decision.
“The Ladies European Tour is extremely pleased to hear that the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers has voted to include female members and will begin to restore the reputation of the club following the disappointing ballot result last May,” LET chief executive officer Ivan Khodabakhsh said. “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.”
Muirfield has staged the Open Championship on 16 occasions, with Phil Mickelson winning there in 2013. Many aficionados feel it’s the best course on the Open rota because of its unique configuration of holes. The opening nine plays in a clockwise direction back to the clubhouse, while the inward nine circles back inside the front nine in a counter clockwise loop.
The R&A has delegated courses for the Open through the 2021 championship, so the earliest Muirfield can host another Open is 2022.