By Alison Root
Muirfield Golf Club in East Lothian has finally voted to allow female members, but are the majority of these gentleman really that honourable, or did they simply succumb to pressure?
Just 10 months ago 64% of the 616 members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG), the world’s oldest golf club, voted in favour of changing the policy to allow female members at Muirfield, however this wasn’t enough to reach a two-thirds majority, as a whopping 36% voted against.
As a result, a media frenzy ensued as there was nothing honourable about this decision and a serious backlash included the R&A banning the venue from holding The Open until members came to their senses. Two months later, no doubt under pressure, the club sought authority from the membership to hold a fresh ballot and the result was announced earlier today.
In a statement made outside the clubhouse HCEG Captain, Henry Fairweather, announced that out of 621 members, 498 votes (80.2%) were in favour of change, with 123 votes (19.8%) against. Fairweather said:
“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”.
It is a significant and good decision, but it’s one that would have received greater respect if received last May. One cannot help but question its genuineness. Within 15 minutes of the announcement, Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A released a statement:
“In light of today’s decision by the Honourable Company we can confirm that Muirfield will become a venue for The Open once again.”
Only time will tell how welcome women will be made to feel at Muirfield, and as the waiting list is two to three years anyway, you never know, perhaps the 123 members that voted against might have changed their stance by then too, although I doubt it!
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