Concerns of women members “slowing down” the course along with a break in “tradition”, were quickly trumped by a competing problem: that the British Open pulled out from running its competition on the course in 2016 due to the club’s stance on female members.
A strong 80% of the club voted to finally allow women to join, but then 123 members still voted against the move – meaning they’d prefer to lose the British Open for good, than have female members involved.
Golfer and 2014 British Open champion Rory McIlroy said it’s “obscene” that it’s taken until 2017 to allow female members, and was surprised that members had continued to vote against the move. While he said he’ll return to play in the Open, he said he won’t be putting his hand up to “have cups of tea” with the members.
This is the second time in a year that Muirfield members voted on the big question of whether to allow female members in, with a May 2016 decision coming up 2% short of the two third majority required to make the change.
That’s when the British Open stepped in, saying it couldn’t continue running the event at a venue that didn’t change its rules.
Back then Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also got involved, calling the result of the vote “indefensible”.
“Scotland has women leaders in every walk of life, in politics, in law, in business and everywhere else. I think this decision is wrong and I hope there’s a way of looking at it again and overturning it.”
A second vote was organised in an attempt to come up with a different result, and this time common sense prevailed:
With a bit of public pressure — and a serious threat of losing a massive client — isn’t it amazing what can be done? And done very quickly.
Even at the world’s oldest golf club.