The welcome announcement was made outside the clubhouse this morning by Henry Fairweather, the captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG), which owns and runs Muirfield.
Ten months after a first ballot fell just 16 votes short of achieving the two-thirds majority required, the second one recorded a vote of 80.2 per cent in favour of the resolution and 19.8 per cent against.
It means that women members will be admitted for the first time in the club’s 273-year history as the HCEG joins the R&A, Royal Troon and Royal St George’s in bringing down male-only barriers in recent years.
Today’s decision was immediately welcomed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who wrote on social media site Twitter: “Well done, Muirfield - decision to admit women members emphatic & the right one. Look forward to seeing you host the Open again in future.”
Catriona Matthew, the long-time Scottish women’s No 1 who lives in North Berwick, was also supportive of the decision.
“I am delighted to hear the outcome of this second vote at Muirfield has come down in favour of embracing women members,” she said.
“I think it is another positive step, both for Muirfield and for golf as a whole, and I think the progress the R&A has instigated since opening its own doors in 2014 has been very important for the game.”
Following the announcement Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A:
“In light of today’s decision by the Honourable Company we can confirm that Muirfield will become a venue for The Open once again.
“Muirfield has a long and important history of hosting The Open and with today’s announcement that will continue.
“It is extremely important for us in staging one of the world’s great sporting events that women can become members at all of our host clubs.
“Muirfield is a truly outstanding Open venue and we very much look forward to taking the Championship back there in future.”
Henry Fairweather, captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, said: “This is a significant decision for a Club which was founded in 1744 and retains many of the values and aspirations of its founding Members.
“We look forward to welcoming women as members who will enjoy, and benefit from, the great traditions and friendly spirit of this remarkable Club”.
“The current waiting list for membership at Muirfield suggests that new candidates for membership, women and men, can expect to wait two to three years, or longer, to become a Member of the Club.
Muirfield’s position in golf is reflected in the fact that of the current courses that host The Open only the Old Course in St Andrews has staged golf’s oldest Major on more occasions.