Muirfield moves toward possible vote for women

Muirfield, which hosted the Open Championship in 2013, is moving toward a vote on allowing women members.

EDINBURGH, Scotland – Twenty-four hours after the Royal & Ancient Golf Club decided to hold a vote on allowing female members, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield looks set to do the same.

The Muirfield club is one of three all-male golf clubs on the Open Championship rota, with Royal St. George’s and Royal Troon. The club responsible for drafting golf’s original 13 rules has been in existence since 1774. For its entire history it has been a male-only enclave. That may be about to change.

The club is to review its membership.

“A working group has been empowered to consult with the membership and to make recommendations to the board about our future,” a club spokesman said in a statement. “As a club, we comply fully with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (U.K. anti-discrimination legislation) and there are no current plans to change the membership criteria, but these will be reviewed.

“Most importantly, we intend to take the time to ensure that plans we adopt will stand us in good stead, not only for the immediate future but for the next 270 years of our great club.”

The Honourable Company was heavily criticized last year when the Open Championship was staged over its Muirfield course. The media onslaught against it and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club’s outdated membership policies prompted the R&A, the governing body for golf worldwide except for the U.S. and Mexico, to persuade members to vote on allowing women to join. The vote is scheduled for Sept. 18.

Earlier this year, Giles Morgan, HSBC’s global head of sponsorship and events, said the London-based bank was not comfortable sponsoring the Open Championship when the tournament was held at male-only clubs.

“The R&A are clear that it's a very uneasy position for the bank,” Morgan said. “When you are showcasing one of the world's greatest tournaments, it would be much more palatable if the events were played where there was not the sense of segregation.

“We would like to see it get solved so we don't keep talking about it.”

Morgan appears to be set to get his way.

It seems probable that the Royal & Ancient and Honourable Company will have female members by the next time the Open Championship returns to Muirfield.

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