80% vote to have women members at Muirfield

Women finish their round of golf at Muirfield Golf Club on May 19, 2016 in Gullane, ScotlandImage copyright
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Women were only welcome at the course and clubhouse as guests and visitors

Muirfield golf club has voted to admit women as members for the first time in its history.

Members at the privately-owned club voted 80.2% in favour of updating their membership policy.

It followed a decision by golf’s ruling body, the R&A, to remove Muirfield as a host venue for the Open Championship after it failed to change in 2016.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said the club would now be reinstated as an Open venue.

  • Second Muirfield ballot on female members

“Muirfield has a long and important history of hosting the Open and with today’s announcement that will continue,” he said.

“It is extremely important for us in staging one of the world’s great sporting events that women can become members at all our host clubs.

“Muirfield is a truly outstanding Open venue and we very much look forward to taking the championship there in future.”

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Muirfield last hosted the Open in 2013 and has staged the event 16 times in its history

Muirfield – which was founded in 1744 – had required two-thirds of its eligible voters to back admitting women.

The postal ballot of members returned 498 votes in favour of change, with 123 votes (19.8%) against.

A total of 621 votes were counted, a 92.7% turnout.


Club captain Henry Fairweather welcomed the result: “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.”

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns and runs Muirfield, had recommended its members update their rules.

It followed consternation from many quarters at the result of the 2016 vote that failed to back female members.

At the time, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for the decision “simply indefensible”.

Following the latest vote, she tweeted: “Well done, Muirfield – decision to admit women members emphatic & the right one. Look forward to seeing you host the Open again in future.”

Muirfield has staged the Open 16 times and last hosted the event in 2013.

While the change to admit women members takes affect immediately, the club admits it is likely to be at least two years before the first woman successfully negotiates its lengthy joining process.

Despite previously not being able to become members of Muirfield, women had been able to play on the links course and visit the clubhouse as guests and visitors.

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