Oldest golf club in the worldJune 27, 2019

Muirfield's Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers invites 12 women to join, ending 275 years of males only

Photography of Muirfield Golf Club, Clubhouse.East Lothian Scotland.
Phil Wilkinson(Photo by Phil Wilkinson)

Two-hundred-seventy-five years later, and more than two years after Muirfield’s Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers announced that it would open its membership to women, it has extended invitations to 12 women, the club announced on Thursday.

“It is my great pleasure to announce that 12 women have been formally invited to join the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers this month,” its captain, Alistair Campbell, said in a news release. “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.

“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, located in East Lothian, Scotland, declined to reveal the names of the 12 women, though it noted two “are overseas candidates.” What is known is that Catriona Matthew, a Scot who will captain the European Solheim Cup later this year, is not among them.

The women had to endure the same arduous screening process that prospective male members go through. They must “first be proposed and seconded by existing members and five referees,” the news release said. “The club’s membership is then invited to write in support, or otherwise, of those put forward, who are personally known to them or have golfed with them.”

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When the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews opened its membership to women for the first time in 2014, it set in motion Muirfield’s eventual capitulation. The club took its first vote on extending invitations to women in 2016 and rejected the proposal, causing the Royal & Ancient to remove it from the Open Championship rota. A year later, it took another vote and 80 percent of its members voted to open the club to women, after which the R&A restored Muirfield to the Open rota.

Muirfield has hosted the Open 16 times. Its roll call of winners including Walter Hagen, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo (twice), Ernie Els and, most recently, Phil Mickelson in 2013.