After a long and tiring process, Muirfield golf club has finally voted in favor of admitting female members. Along with this decision, the club has been added back to The Open rota.
The first time around, the vote narrowly missed the two-thirds majority that it needed to admit women as members, forfeiting their place as a venue to hold the Open. Muirfield released this statement about the decision initially, siting slow play as one of the reasons for the failed vote.
“Of the 648 members who were eligible to vote, after a two-year consultation process, the move did not receive the two-thirds majority (432) needed … A 33-strong group of ‘no’ campaigners among the Muirfield members cited concerns about slow play and making women “feel uncomfortable” among the “risks” of admitting female members.”
Since then, many have criticised Muirfield for the members archaic perceptions, including Rory McIlroy. Post first vote, Rory commented saying, “They (Muirfield) can do what they want, but in this day and age it’s not right to host the world’s biggest tournament at a place that does not allow women to become members. Hopefully they can see some sense and we can get it back there one day.”
There is no doubt that being stricken from the Open rota persuaded the club to have a revote, which would obviously be passed in the favor of female members. Muifield has hosted the Open 16 times in the past, producing high profile champions with the likes of Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo (twice), Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.
Henry Fairweather, the captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG) which owns and runs the course, announced the change in membership policy on Tuesday. The rule change passed by 498 to 123 after a second vote, with 80 percent of members in favor.
Fairweather’s statement after the decision reads:
“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. We look forward to welcoming women as members who will enjoy, and benefit from, the great traditions and friendly spirit of this remarkable club.”
No longer is Muirfield a boys club only. This truly is a pivotal moment for a club founded 200 years prior to the passing of the 19th amendment. Golf was in its infancy when Muirfield was established, and no matter the motivation, admitting women members to a club as historical as this one is a huge step for progress.