In a move ostensibly aimed toward getting back in the British Open rota, Muirfield (Scotland) has voted to admit women members.
Muirfield, one of Scotland's most iconic golf courses, announced that it will admit women members next month for the first time in its 275-year history. Twelve women will join The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers after being selected via a vetting process.
"This marks a milestone in the Club's illustrious history, and we look forward to welcoming all of our new members to share in the great values and traditions of our club,'' said Alistair Campbell, captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, in a statement.
"This year marks the 275th anniversary of the club's first recorded golf competition. We are proud of our club's rich history but equally excited for its future and the part all of our new members will play in the club's cherished traditions.''
The club—not to be confused with Ohio's Muirfield Village, which has hosted the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament each year since 1976—has hosted the British Open 16 times, most recently in 2013 when Phil Mickelson won his lone Open. But the course was taken out of the British Open host venue rotation by the R&A after a 2016 member vote failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to enact a rule change to admit women.
"The R&A has considered today's decision with respect to the Open Championship," the R&A said in a statement at the time. "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.
"Given the schedule for staging the Open, it would be some years before Muirfield would have been considered to host the Championship again. If the policy at the club should change we would reconsider Muirfield as a venue for the Open in future."
That prompted a second vote in 2017, and more than 80% of members voted to make the change. The reason no women have been admitted yet is due to a comprehensive vetting process that can take up to six years, but was expedited for this special circumstance.
The move comes six years after Augusta National voted to admit its first women members, Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore. There are multiple other courses in the United States that do not have women among its membership—including Butler National in Illinois, which hosted the Western Open from 1974-1990 before the tournament moved in protest of Butler's men-only policy.
Muirfield has not been announced as a future host venue for the British Open, which will be at Royal Portrush this year, Royal St. George's in 2020, St. Andrews in 2021 and Royal Liverpool in 2022.