Nicola Sturgeon last night led calls for Royal Troon golf club to admit women members ahead of The Open Championship being staged there this summer.
The First Minister urged the all male club to reflect on her view that there should be nowhere in Scotland that is “off limits” to women.
Her remarks came amid speculation that she would refuse to attend The Open when it is played over the famous links. Last night a spokeswoman for Ms Sturgeon said her attendance at the event had yet to be considered.
In 2013 her predecessor Alex Salmond did not go to The Open when it was played at Muirfield and was hosted by another all male club, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.
Last night Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m the first woman to hold the office of First Minister and gender equality is one of the things that really, really matters to me. I don’t think in this day and age it’s acceptable for there to be anywhere in Scotland that is off limits to women and I hope Royal Troon reflects on that, I know they are undertaking their own review at the minute and I welcome that and look forward to its conclusions.”
Last year Royal Troon began what was described as a “comprehensive review to consider the most appropriate membership policy for the future”.
Although it is an all male club, it shares facilities, including the famous links, with the Ladies Golf Club, Troon. The two clubs are sharing the responsibility of hosting this year’s Open via a joint championship committee. In 2014, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the game’s ruling body, voted to admit women.
Ms Sturgeon’s call was echoed by Labour, Green and Lib Dem politicians. The Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: “I think the R&A have come a really long way. They had their own referendum about allowing women members. Whether they still want to award prestigious competitions to men only clubs is a matter for them. I tell you something, if Troon doesn’t let women in there may not be a national boycott but I certainly won’t be going along to watch.”
Interviewed on the BBC, the Royal Troon captain Martin Cheyne said: “I always say when questions are asked like this – it is one venue. It is two clubhouses and fully shared facilities. The ladies can play the Old Course any day of the week free of charge and the ladies can come across and use this clubhouse.
“We are very close in our working relationships between the two clubs.”