Storied St. Andrews golf club to vote on admitting women

BY Lorna Baldwin  March 26, 2014 at 2:34 PM EST
Women currently do not have access to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews clubhouse, pictured, but a vote this year could change that. Photo by Flickr user Graeme Bird

Women currently do not have access to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews clubhouse, pictured, but a vote this year could change that. Photo by Flickr user Graeme Bird

After a 260-year wait, women will finally get the chance to become members at the “home of golf,” The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland. The current roster of around 2,500 elite members will vote in September on whether to admit women. A statement from the club said committees are “strongly in favor of the rule change and are asking members to support it.”

Founded in 1754, with its male members spanning the globe, the R&A is golf’s governing body outside the U.S. and Mexico.

“As society changes, as sport changes, as golf changes, it’s something the R&A needs to do, and we’re trying to be as forward-looking as we can today,” chief executive of the R&A Peter Dawson said Wednesday in a conference call.

Both men and women can golf the seven public courses in the town of St. Andrews, including the Old Course, one of the oldest and most famous in the world. But access to the R&A clubhouse has been off limits to women since it was built in 1854, except for social occasions like “Lady Guest Dinner Nights.” It wasn’t until 2007 when the Women’s British Open was hosted by the Royal and Ancient that women were allowed inside as golfers. As recently as 20 years ago there was still a sign hanging just outside the clubhouse that read “No dogs or women allowed.” It has since been removed.

In the U.S., Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club, where the Masters is played, admitted its first female members in 2012. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore were the first two women to join the storied American club.