The R&A is primed to issue an announcement that the famous East Lothian links will be immediately welcomed back on to the Open roster. Last May, the first postal ballot came up to two per cent short, causing the R&A, the ruling body which oversees the game’s oldest major, to tell the privately-owned links that it would no longer be considered as a host venue of the Open.
“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,” a statement at the time said.
With politicians, golfers, media and, more pertinently, the public heaping their derision on Muirfield, the embarrassment was so great that another vote was quickly planned. Sources were adamant that this time around, the numbers would be hugely in support of change and it appears their confidence was well-founded, with one insider reporting the majority to be “more than 90 percent”.
Martin Slumbers, the R&A chief executive, has outlined what is at stake saying: “If the policy at the club should change we would reconsider Muirfield as a venue for the Open in future.”
Muirfield has staged the Open 16 times, producing a who’s who of champions, including Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo (twice), Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, who lifted the Claret Jug there in 2013.
Since the Royal & Ancient – the St Andrews club closely linked to the R&A – voted to allow women to become members in 2014, both Royal St George’s and Royal Troon have followed suit. Many would see Muirfield as being the missing link with modern times.
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