So the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers have voted and the answer is no. By a technicality that is. And as women will still not be allowed to become members the Royal and Ancient have responded by removing the club from the Championship rota. Muirfield has hosted The Open 16 times, the last time in 2013.
This is probably why the members at this year’s Open venue, Royal Troon, have been endlessly stalling for time on their vote. If they had voted no then a hasty retreat to another venue could well have been on the cards. As it is, they will delay their vote until after the Championship in July.
We are told that the majority of members at Muirfield did vote to allow women to become members but that wasn’t enough to reach a majority. Surely the strength of support within the members should lead to a change in policy and prevent further damage. But Club Captain Henry Fairweather said “the members have voted after a thorough process and we must respect that. It is what it is”.
Well yes, it is what it is in their world. Apparently a letter has been circulating amongst the members called “The Risks”. It says “allowing lady members is going to create difficulties. It will take a very special lady to do all the things that are expected of them and the ladies membership as a whole may not meet this standard…”
Peter Alliss has waded into the controversy and supports the members. He says the thing is that wives of members play at Muirfield free of charge and they’re not going to relinquish that”. He then criticised the Royal and Ancient for their decision depriving the rota of the best course on which the championship is played. A member was apparently heard saying “the clubhouse is full of bloody women. They love getting in for nothing”.
But this is only the wives of members. The course can be played by guests or visitors and it is not illegal for a private club to make such rules. However, there is a rising tide of opinion that it should be made illegal and there is anger amongst the wider community that this has happened. Female golfers at neighbouring club have said that it is a terrible degredation of women as people in 2016 to think in the way they do.They said it can only damage the reputation of the club.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon MSP called the decision “indefensible”. she said “This is 2016. Women are leaders in every profession, every walk of life. The decision is wrong and damaging”.
British Prime Minister Rt Hon David Cameron MP said that “in 2016 sports clubs should be totally open to both sexes, particularly if hosting important championships”.
It is good to see the Royal and Ancient acting so quickly and decisively and refusing to support single sex clubs. Just unfortunate that Royal Troon have been playing them and keeping the Championship as a single sex club, while delaying their vote until later. Not fair that we should possibly lose two great courses from the rota in one year but the principle of this is too important and tough action is long overdue.
Loving the dinosaur in the picture roaring at Mickelson who is running – slowly – away from him.