The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andres have voted in favour of allowing women members with immediate effect.
It is being reported that the results were overwhelming with 85 percent of the 2,400 worldwide members voting 'yes'. People voted in person and through proxy and postal votes after being issued with an official ballot paper.
Home of golf
The result represents the end of the 260 years of male-only membership at one of the oldest golf clubs in the world. The club was founded in 1754 and the St Andrews links course is often regarded as the 'home of golf.'
The R&A chief executive Peter Dawson has been calling for a mixed membership for a long time and was delighted with the result of the ballot.
"We have voted overwhelmingly in favour of welcoming women members," he said.
"More than three quarters of the club’s global membership took part in the ballot, with a decisive 85 per cent voting for women to become members. This vote has immediate effect and I can confirm that the Royal and Ancient golf club of St Andrew’s is now a mixed membership club.
“The membership also acted to fast-track a significant initial number of women to become members in the coming months. This a is a very important and positive day in the history of the Royal and Ancient golf club.
“The R&A has served the sport of golf well for 260 years and I’m confident that the club will continue to do so in future, with the support of all of its members, both women and men.”
It is expected that an initial 15 female members will be allowed to join, with those that have made a "significant contribution to golf" getting priority.
There are plenty of possible candidates to receive a membership including former USGA President Judy Bell, the principle of St Andrews University Louise Richardson and former top amateur player Carol Semple Thompson.
Laura Davies, winner of the 1994 and 1996 LPGA Championship, has also declared her interest by admitting she would "snap their hands off" if she was offered a membership.
Helen Grant, the minister for sport is hoping that this new change at R&A will prompt the three remaining male-only clubs, Royal St George's, Royal Troon and Muirfield, to follow suit.
She said: “I am pleased that the members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews have voted in favour of admitting women members.
"This is positive news for the sport and I hope we will now see other golf clubs that still have outdated same sex policies follow suit. With golf in the next Olympics there is a huge opportunity for the sport to grow and this sends out the right inclusive message that golf is for everyone.”
Not allowed in clubhouse
Before the result, women were permitted to play on the course on the east coast of Scotland but were not allowed in the clubhouse and had no input in the sport's rulemaking arm, the R&A.
The R&A separated from the club 10 years ago and controls golf around the world, excluding the United States and Mexico.
A statement from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) also declared their delight at the result.
"The LPGA is happy to hear that the members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews have voted to include female members," it said. "This decision is certainly a step in the right direction and one that better captures the current diversity and inclusiveness of our great game."
In 2012, the Augusta National Club in the United States, which hosts the Masters, allowed two women members for join for the first time during their 80-year history.
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