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Muirfield Golf Club, Gullane, Scotland. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Boys' club no more

After 273 years, world’s oldest golf club will finally allow female members

March 16, 2017

One of the oldest boys’ clubs still in existence has fallen. Members of the Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland, which holds the distinction as the world’s oldest private golf course, in a dramatic vote this week decided to admit women as members for the first time in its history. The club, founded in 1744, is synonymous with golf — it’s founder literally wrote the rules of golf there that year — and has welcomed exclusively male members during its 273 years in operation. Women have been allowed on the grounds as guests and visitors, but denied membership. The club has also hosted 16 British Open events, but last year, after its members narrowly voted to uphold the men-only policy, was stripped of its privilege to host the prestigious tournament. A two-thirds vote was needed to overturn the longtime policy and those in favor of admitting women accounted for only 64 percent of last year’s vote.

This year was a different story as the vote was a landslide. Eighty percent of voting members gave the nod to accept women. Still, though, some 123 members, desperately trying to hold on to old times, voted against admitting women. The Royal and Ancient, the body that organizes the British Open, acknowledged the vote and announced that Muirfield would again be eligible to host the iconic tournament.

Despite the landmark policy change, women still won’t be showing up at Muirfield to play golf right away. It could still be several more years before women are actually admitted as members.

Read the full story at The New York Times.