Royal Troon has voted overwhelmingly to open its door to women members, just under a fortnight before the Ayrshire club hosts the Open Championship for the ninth time.
A ballot among the club’s male members at a special general meeting in the clubhouse resulted in a resolution to admit women being passed in what was hailed by the club captain, Dr Martin Cheynem as the “right decision”.
It followed a survey earlier this year at the 138-year-old club finding support for such a step among three-quarters of those who participated in the consultation process.
“We have said a number of times recently that it is important for golf clubs to reflect the society in which we exist and the modern world that looks to us,” said Cheyne following the vote.
“Therefore, I am delighted with the decision taken by members of Royal Troon this evening and look forward to welcoming women to our great club. It is the right decision for the club today, and for the generations of golfers that will follow. “Tonight, we turn our attention to jointly hosting the 145th Open Championship with our great friends at The Ladies Golf Club, Troon. We can now all be focused on golf and showcasing this wonderful club and golf course to the huge global audience that this most prestigious championship commands.
“I am grateful for the support of many people, including Scottish Golf – the game’s governing body in Scotland - for its unswerving support and to my Vice-Captain and fellow members of the committee. I pay special thanks to the members who turned out tonight for an important discussion and the right decision for Royal Troon Golf club.”
Welcoming the vote, a spokesman for the R&A said: “We welcome this decision by the membership at Royal Troon and recognise its significance for the club. Our focus today is very much on The 145th Open in just under two weeks’ time but we can now look forward to many more great Championships at Royal Troon in years to come.”
The decision means that there are no longer any male-only clubs on the R&A’s rota for The Open after Muirfield was removed from that list following a “no” vote on women membership six weeks ago.
The first step towards that decision being reversed, though, was taken earlier this week when it was revealed that the committee is seeking permission from the members of Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers to hold a fresh ballot before the end of the year.
Henry Fairweather, the Muirfield captain, said that step was being taken after the initial vote had “damaged” the East Lothian club’s reputation as it came under fire from politicians, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and leading golfers such as Rory McIlroy and Catriona Matthew.
Royal St George’s in Kent voted last year to admit women members and prior to that The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews also opted to end its 260-year-old male-only membership policy in September 2014.
The Troon result was announced just after the R&A revealed that Tiger Woods had withdrawn from the 145th Open as the three-time winner appears to be no closer to a return following his back surgeries last year.
His place has gone to Australian Marcus Fraser, with Englishman Luke Donald now up to first reserve from the world rankings.