R&A defends decision to stage the Amateur at male only club

The R&A has defended its decision to stage the 2019 British Amateur Championship at Portmarnock despite the County Dublin club's continuing refusal to admit women members.

Portmarnock Golf Club in County Dublin is male only.  Picture: David Cannon/Getty Images
Portmarnock Golf Club in County Dublin is male only. Picture: David Cannon/Getty Images

Although the news was officially announced yesterday, R&A officials say the hosting rights were finalised prior to the decision in May by the Championship Committee to remove any clubs which maintain a single gender membership policy from the Open rota.

After Muirfield voted to maintain its single gender status, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers had said: “The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and going forward we will not stage the championship at a venue that does not admit women as members.”

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There has been no official confirmation that the same rule applies to the Amateur Championship, but in a statement the R&A implied this was not the reason for the move to take the event to Portmarnock for the first time since 1949.

The R&A said: “The invitation to Portmarnock pre-dated the Championship Committee’s decision not to take the Open to golf courses at single-gender clubs and it was agreed by the Championship Committee at the time that all existing agreements concerning The R&A’s amateur events would be honoured.”

Shortly after the Muirfield vote, Rory McIlroy expressed frustration that a similar refusal to budge by Portmarnock was precluding the course from staging the Irish Open.

“Portmarnock is one of the best venues for the Irish Open but the men-only issue is holding them back as well,” McIlroy said.

“We’ve had conversations about it and they are in the process of maybe taking the first steps to changing that rule. I’m going to put as much pressure as I can on them and not just because I’d love to see the Irish Open there. It is 2016, and these things have to change.”

It was also announced that Royal Liverpool will host the 2019 Walker Cup and the 2019 Seniors Amateur Championship will be staged at North Berwick.