Royal Troon Golf Club, venue for this year’s Open Championship, has dropped a heavy hint that it wants its 800 male members to vote in favour of admitting women members.
It follows club captain Martin Cheyne saying it is “important” that the Ayrshire club “reflects the modern society in which we exist”.
A membership review has been ongoing at Royal Troon for the past 16 months without any hint of a decision being likely before it hosts The Open for the first time since 2004.
Indeed, it had been believed the next step in that process was unlikely to take place until August, meaning that would come after it was in the sporting spotlight.
However, it now appears that recent comments by the likes of First Minister Nicola Stuegeon on the club hosting The Open as a male-only club may have accelerated the process.
A letter has been sent to Royal Troon’s 800 members “seeking views on the issue of the admission of women members” and, though the clock is ticking, there is still an outside chance that a decision could be made before the event starts on 14 July.
In a statement issued today, Cheyne said: “As we look forward to jointly hosting the Open Championship later this summer, the Committee of Royal Troon Golf Club continues with its process regarding the Club’s Future Membership Policy and is cognisant of the recent articles in the press and social media, the public discussion surrounding the club, and the statements made by senior politicians.
“We are acting to better understand the views of our members, which will in turn inform the decisions we take. We care very much for the reputation of Royal Troon Golf Club and it is important that the club, much like the wider game, reflects the modern society in which we exist.
“We have today written to all of our members to understand their views and feelings on the issue of the admission of women to the Club. We expect to have a clearer sight of those opinions in the weeks ahead and will make further statements in due course.”
Following a media day last month for the ninth Open Championship to be held at Royal Troon, Sturgeon urged the 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. 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.
“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,” said Sturgeon. “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.”
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and Royal St George’s have both admitted women members inside the last two years while Muirfield is also believed to be close to doing likewise.