Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

260 years after it was founded, R&A Golf Club set to allow women members

The club came under considerable pressure to make the change

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has announced it will recommend women be finally allowed to join the club, 260 years after it was founded.

The club is "strongly in favour" of the rule change and is asking its 2,400 existing members vote to allow women to join.

The vote will take place on September 18 and requires a two-thirds majority.

A spokesperson for The Royal and Ancient Golf Club said: "Members of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the founding club of The R&A, will vote on a motion to admit women as members.

"The Club's committees are strongly in favour of the rule change and are asking members to support it. The vote is scheduled to take place in September of this year."

The move follows intense pressure on the club, especially during the Open Championship at Muirfield last year. Ex-sports minister Hugh Robertson and culture secretary Maria Miller turned down invitations to attend Muirfield, which is one of the three courses on the nine-strong Open rota to not allow women members.

Minister for Sport and Equalities Helen Grant said on Wednesday: "This is welcome news from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and I urge its members to follow their Committees' recommendations and vote 'yes' for women members.

"It would mark a step in the right direction for the sport and I would hope encourage the remaining golf clubs that still have anachronistic single-sex member policies to follow suit."

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said he was delighted with the news but would not be drawn on what it meant for Open Championship venues.

"We very much hope once the vote is taken we will be welcoming women to the club," Dawson said. "It's something that has been expected; I'm not going to say overdue but I'm sure I'll be asked that question.

"Early indications from the members are very positive indeed. We have been talking about this for quite a while and it's our governance role which has been the driving factor.

"Society is changing, sport is changing, golf is changing and I think it's appropriate for a governing body to take this step. This is not about the Open Championship. This is about our governance role.

"We have been entirely focused on this internal change and I have absolutely nothing to announce about Open Championship policy. We have given the clubs advanced notice out of courtesy."