Royal Burgess, the oldest golf society in world, allows women to join

Members of the oldest golf society in the world have voted to allow women members to join for the first time in its 285-year history.

Royal Burgess Golfing Society, which was founded in 1735, is opening up its membership - just over six years after the same proposal was thrown out by members of the Barnton club.
Royal Burgess Golfing Society, which was founded in 1735, is opening up its membership - just over six years after the same proposal was thrown out by members of the Barnton club.

Royal Burgess Golfing Society in Edinburgh, which was founded in 1735, opened its doors to women members following a vote at the Barnton club's agm last night.

The club said 83 per cent of its members had backed the change, which will see the membership open up on 1 April 2020.

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The decision comes just over six years after the same proposal was scrapped due to less than a third of the club's membership supporting it in a referendum.

In a statement, the club said: "The captain and Council of the Royal Burgess Golfing Society are pleased to announce that, at the Annual General Meeting of the Society on Thursday 12th March, the resolution to open its membership was passed.

"As the world’s oldest golf club, the Society enjoys a position of leadership in Scottish and world golf, including the promotion of golf at junior level.

"The Society looks forward to welcoming an open and diverse membership, affording everyone the chance to be part of its ongoing success.

"The history of the club and that of the City of Edinburgh are woven together. The Society believes that a more open membership will enhance and strengthen the club’s proud relationship with the city."

Captain Bill Mattocks added: “This historic decision demonstrates the club’s recognition of the importance of embracing equality.

"We look forward to welcoming many new members over the coming years and to share what our fine Society has to offer with them.”

The decision was welcomed by one of the club's best-known players, former world junior champion Kenny Walker.

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"I'm glad to hear that and about time," he said of the successful vote. "It was getting a bit embarrassing to be the one of the only all-male clubs left.

"I'm not sure how many women will want to join, but this is certainly good news."

James Ross, another former Scottish international who now represents the club in the professional ranks, also gave the decision the thumbs up.

"It’s obviously great news and about time it happened," he said. "With the number of golf clubs closing back home these days, it’s brilliant to hear of additional members coming into a club and not the reverse."

The green light for women members at Royal Burgess comes around 18 months after its neighbour, Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society, which was founded in 1761, took the same step.

Other clubs in Scotland to bring down all-male barriers in recent years include The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Royal Troon and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield.

Glasgow Golf Club, Royal Aberdeen and Panmure have also opened up to women members in the past few years.

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