LONDON (AFP) – The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews on Thursday voted to allow women members for the first time in its 260-year history.
The R&A’s 2,400 members were allowed to take part in the vote, which was passed by a margin of 85 percent in favour to 15 percent against.
“This is a very important and positive day in the history of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club,” chief executive Peter Dawson said.
“The R&A has served the sport of golf well for 260 years and I am confident that the club will continue to do so in future with the support of all its members, both women and men.”
Dawson added that the decision will take place with immediate effect and a “significant” initial number of women will be fast-tracked to membership in the coming months to avoid the long waiting list.
Before Thursday’s vote, women could play on the Old Course at the Scottish venue but they could not join the club, which is widely regarded as the ‘Home of Golf’ and had no significant part in the sport’s rulemaking arm, the R&A.
That body, separated from the club 10 years ago, controls golf around the world apart from in the United States and Mexico.
Former USGA president Judy Bell and former leading amateur player Carol Semple Thompson are reported to be among the first women likely to become members.
The LPGA welcomed the results in a statement which read: “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.
“This decision is certainly a step in the right direction and one that better captures the current diversity and inclusiveness of our great game.”