WHILE unable to say for certain, Peter Dawson believes a journey is taking place that is likely to spell the end of the Open Championship being staged at men-only golf clubs.
Following the R&A’s own decision last September to grant membership to women, reviews are currently taking place at Muirfield, Royal Troon and Royal St George’s – the three men-only clubs on the Open rota.
It remains to be seen if a change will be introduced at Royal Troon in time for it staging next year’s event, but it has already been announced it and Troon Ladies will be joint-hosts in a ground-breaking venture for the game’s oldest major.
“We welcome the announcement of the two clubs hosting the Open, the joint-championship committee and the review of the membership policies,” said Dawson, the R&A’s chief executive.
“As we’ve always said, this is a matter for these clubs themselves, but it’s good to see that this is happening.”
Asked if there was a possibility that the day was close to arriving whereby the Open would no longer find itself visiting men-only clubs, he added: “I couldn’t be sure and we’re certainly not taking the position here that we would never go to one of those and we’ve always said that.
“But there is a direction of travel here, isn’t there? You can sense it. Let’s see where it takes us.”
Muirfield was the last men-only club to host the event in 2013, with Dawson admitting he’d been an “unwilling participant” in a circus that surrounded it, which included First Minister Alex Salmond refusing to attend out of principal.
“[But] I suppose it did,” added Dawson when asked if that had been instrumental in the membership change that has since been introduced at the R&A and could also be in the pipeline at those three aforementioned clubs.