Masters champion Danny Willett and three Claret Jug winners have all welcomed Muirfield’s restoral to the Open Championship rota.
The R&A made the announcement immediately after the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns and runs the East Lothian course, voted “yes” for women members in a second ballot.
A total of 621 members, representing 92.7 per cent of the total membership, took part in the postal ballot, with 498 supporting the proposal.
That 80.2 per cent backing provided the two-thirds majority required to change the club’s rules, having failed by just 14 votes in the initial ballot last May.
“It’s great,” said Willett, speaking during a teleconference in the build up to his Masters title defence in three weeks’ time, of the decision.
“I was fortunate enough to play The Open at Muirfield (finishing in tie for 15th behind Phil Mickelson in 2013) and it was an awesome week.
“When the vote was passed that females weren’t allowed and that they were going to be taken off The Open rota, it was not only a blow for a lot of other things but also for us golfers who think that that golf course is one of the best Open golf courses that we play.
“Now that females are allowed to be members of Muirfield, I think is a good thing. It shows change in what is ordinarily an incredibly old golf club.
“It shows how golf’s changed and, from a selfish point of view, and I’m looking forward to when we eventually get back there for The Open.”
The decision was also welcomed by former Open champions Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink and Louis Oosthuizen.
“I applaud them for getting with the times and with what seems common sense,” said 2015 winner Johnson. “Muirfield is one of my favourite golf courses I have ever played and to know that we may never go there again was kind of disheartening.”
Cink, who denied Tom Watson a sixth Open title at Turnberry in 2009, described the decision as a “great step forward”.
“The golf course is also one of the very best in the world and should be in The Open rotation,” he added.
Oosthuizen, who won the game’s oldest major at St Andrews in 2000, told golfbytourmiss.com:
“Muirfield is a great golf course with a lot of history, and it would have been sad not to have the course in the rotation.”
Paul Lawrie, partnered by his oldest son Craig, got off to a winning debut in the Sunningdale Foursomes.
The duo beat French pair Verhaeghe Arnaud and Biaugeaud 2&1 to set up a second-round clash this morning with Jon Baker-Odlin and Alex Beckett.
Lawrie’s fellow Open champion, Sandy Lyle, was another first-round winner, joining forces with Prestwick amateur James Bunch for a 4&3 success over Italian duo Andrea Corbellini and Federico Elli.
That earned Lyle and Bunch a match this morning against David Callaway and James Winstanley.
The third all-Scottish pairing in the event, Michele Thomson and Ross Cameron, won their opening match on the last hole before bowing out by 4&3 to Matt Wallace and Callum Shinkwin.
The defending champions, English amateur pair Marco Penge and Sophie Lamb, also went out in an early second-round tie.
Danny Kay is the leading Scot after the opening round of the Casablanca Open, the first event on this season’s MENA Tour.
The Dunbar man, who lost to David Law in the final of the 2011 Scottish Amateur, opened with a two-under-par 69 to sit three behind leader Luke Joy at Palmeraie Country Club.
Jack McDonald is next best among the Scots on 70, followed by pro debutant Daniel Hendry (73) with Grant Forrest and Jamie Savage both signing for 75s.
Jamie McLeary shot a splendid 71 in strong winds at Crail to win a CT Sports Academy Pro Series event at the Fife course.
The Challenge Tour player’s two-over-par effort saw him finish four shots clear of second-placed Michael Stewart.
James Byrne is off to a promising start in the Asian Development Tour’s PGM Northpoint Championship
The Banchory man fired a seven-under-par 65 at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club this morning to sit joint-second, a shot off the lead.
Byrne, who has been based in the Far East since turning professional, signed for eight birdies.