St Andrews, Scotland: Muirfield will be struck from the list of Open Championship venues after the club opted to remain male-only.
In the results of the East Lothian club’s postal ballot, the two-thirds majority required to amend its constitution to admit females narrowly failed.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, organisers of The Open, said: “We have consistently said that it is a matter for the Honourable Company to conduct a review of its membership policy and that we would await their decision.
“The R&A has considered today’s decision with respect to The Open Championship. The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and going forward we will not stage the Championship at a venue that does not admit women as members.
“Given the schedule for staging The Open, it would be some years before Muirfield would have been considered to host the Championship again. If the policy at the club should change we would reconsider Muirfield as a venue for The Open in future.”
HSBC, one of the main sponsors of the Open, were among those to publicly welcome the decision.
“As a proud patron and partner of the Open Championship, we support the R&A’s position on this. As a long-term international sponsor of the sport, we are committed to opening up the world of golf. Central to this is our commitment to the value of diversity in the game and our support of women’s golf, which is right at the heart of our global golf portfolio.”
The postal ballot of Muirfield members returned 64% for and 36% against allowing women to join for the first time in the club’s 125-year history.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first female First Minister, described the vote as indefensible. Responding to the news on Twitter, she said: “Scotland has women leaders in every walk of life. It is 2016. This is simply indefensible.”
The Open has been hosted by Muirfield on 16 occasions with Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Nick Faldo all winning there.
Royal Troon, host this year’s Open in July, is the only other male-only Scottish club on the tournament’s rota. The Guardian newspaper reported that the club is undertaking a review of its own membership policy. Royal Troon shares its facilities with Troon Ladies, and will host the Open jointly with the women’s club.
Royal Troon Captain Martin Cheyne said: “We care very much for the reputation of Royal Troon Golf Club and it is important the club, much like the wider game, reflects the modern society in which we exist.”