Muirfield loses Open after vote against allowing women members

Muirfield has been removed from the host venue rotation for The Open after members of the Scottish golf club voted against allowing women to join.

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns Muirfield, will remain a men-only club after failing to reach the two-thirds majority required to change the club's membership policy.

The Royal & Ancient, which runs golf's oldest major championship, reacted immediately to the decision to announce Muirfield will no longer be considered to host the tournament.

The statement read: "We have consistently said that it is a matter for the Honourable Company to conduct a review of its membership policy and that we would await their decision.

"The R&A has considered today's decision with respect to The Open Championship. 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."

LPGA commissioner Michael Whan responded to R&A's reaction on Twitter.

Muirfield is one of 10 courses on The Open rotation. Royal Troon, which will host this year's edition, is the only other club on the rotation to still exclude women.

Muirfield has hosted The Open 16 times. On the last occasion -- in 2013, when Phil Mickelson lifted the Claret Jug -- the R&A was heavily criticized for allowing Muirfield to stage the event given its opposition to having female members.

A consultation exercise with members was opened as a result.

Media reports in the UK on Wednesday claimed that a group of members at Muirfield -- leading a "No" campaign against women joining the club -- had canvassed fellow members, writing in a letter: "It is accepted that we may have to change, but we should not do so now on the basis suggested.

"A traditional resistance to change is one of the foundations of our unique position in golf and our reputation."

Troon has separate men's and women's clubs and is consulting members over whether to alter that arrangement.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews, the spiritual home of golf, opened its membership to women in 2014 for the first time in 260 years. Royal St George's in Kent, England, another Open host, ended its male-only membership last year.

Augusta National, home of the Masters, decided in 2012 to invite women to join.

The Associated Press and the Press Association contributed to this report.