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Scotland’s Honorable Company of Edinburgh / ˈcd nˌbɜr ə / Golfers (HCEG) will now accept female members.
Out of 621 members who voted, 498 were in favor of admitting women as members, while 123 dissented from the majority decision. Although the original vote was against admitting female members last May, the removal of the Muirfield [myur feeld] course, which HCEG runs, as a possible host venue for professional golf’s Open Championship led to the reversal. Golf’s governing body, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A), imposed the removal because of its support for female members. However, R&A repealed the removal following the announcement of HCEG’s new decision to admit female members.
Founded in 1744, the HCEG is the oldest golf club in the world and it created the original rules of golf. Until changing its policy on female members, women were allowed to play on the golf course only as visitors. According to Scotland’s minister of sport, Aileen Campbell, the vote demonstrated the club’s desire to keep up with a modern country that embraces gender equality.
Although the vote would take effect immediately, women would still have to wait to become official members. Given HCEG’s current waiting list, it would take at least two years before new candidates for membership – regardless of gender – are admitted.
HCEG is one of the exclusive men-only golf clubs that decided to admit female members. Royal St. George’s and Royal Troon, two Open Championship hosts, welcomed women only in 2016. Likewise, the R&A itself changed its stance on having female members only in 2014.