Plaque '˜banning' Muirfield golfers from Princes Street removed

A plaque 'banning' Muirfield members from sitting on a park bench after they voted against allowing women to join the golf club has been removed by Edinburgh City Council.

The plaque appeared on a Princes Street bench. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The plaque spotted in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens appeared to be in response to the Muirfield vote earlier this year when the historic East Lothian club failed to get the two-thirds majority needed among its 648 eligible members to change policy on female membership.

The decision was greeted with anger in and out of the game and the course was stripped of the right to host golf’s Open Championship.

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The bench plaque read: “The members of Muirfield Golf Club are hereby excluded from sitting on this bench.

“By order of the female population of Edinburgh.”

Pictures of the plaque spread across social media, with many people applauding the move.

However, Edinburgh City Council said it had been stuck on top of an existing plaque and it has now been removed.

A spokeswoman said: “This is a presentation seat that was donated to the city and has an existing dedication.

“The plaque in question had been placed without permission and has been removed.”

It is not known how long the plaque had been in place but it rose to public attention over the weekend.

The club did not comment on the plaque.

Muirfield’s committee had supported allowing female members and shortly after the result of the vote, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers - which runs Muirfield - said it plans to hold another ballot.

Approving female members will begin ‘’restoring the reputation of the club’’, captain Henry Fairweather believes.

Some Muirfield members reportedly had concerns over ‘’slow play’’ and future changes to club rules if women joined.

Twitter user Gordon Bell made light of slow play, writing: “Muirfield members should form a queue (4-abreast) at that bench, with each group taking 5 hours and 140 attempts before finally sitting down.”

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers was founded in 1744 and is said to be the oldest recorded golf club in the world.

It set down the original rules of golf in 1744 and has hosted The Open 16 times.

Muirfield last hosted the prestigious tournament in 2013 but will be unable to do so again until it changes membership rules.