Muirfield could go back onto the Open Championship rota as early as Tuesday if the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers votes to accept women members. The results of a second vote on allowing women into the club will be announced Tuesday, as well. Members are expected to decide in favour of admitting women for the first time since the club was formed in 1744.
Muirfield, home to the Honourable Company, was taken off the Open Championship rota last May when members narrowly voted not to admit women into the club. Although 64% of members were in favour, the club needed 66% to pass the motion. Before the 36% even began celebrating, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers took the 16-time Open venue off the rota.
Six weeks after the first vote, the HCEG announced its intention to hold a fresh ballot.
“A substantial majority of our members voted for change and many have voiced their disappointment with the ballot result and with subsequent events,” HCEG Captain Henry Fairweather said. “The club committee believes that a clear and decisive vote in favour of admitting women as members is required to enable us to begin the task of restoring the reputation of the club that has been damaged by the earlier ballot outcome”.
The second vote commenced on February 16 this year. The captain, captain nominate and the club committee recommended members to vote in favour of allowing women.
Slumbers told journalists last month that Muirfield, arguably the best course the Open is played on, would immediately go back on the rota if members voted to bring the club into line with other Open Championship venues.
“We would reconsider and make an announcement very quickly if that (vote) comes through positively,” he said.
Previous all-male clubs such as Royal St George’s and Royal Troon have already amended their single sex policies, leaving the Honourable Company as the only Open Championship club out of bounds on the issue.
2022 is the earliest the R&A can take the Open back to Muirfield, since venues through to 2021 have already been decided. Phil Mickelson won the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield, the last time the game’s oldest major was staged on the links South of Edinburgh.
Fairweather will announce the result of the vote at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Savings time Tuesday.