Muirfield votes to admit women, restored to The Open rota

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Muirfield has been restored to the list of The Open venues after its members voted to admit women into their ranks on a second vote.

The East Lothian course was immediately removed from the rota after a first vote narrowly failed to achieve the two-thirds majority required last May.

However, Henry Fairweather, the captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns and runs Muirfield, announced on Tuesday that the rule change had been passed by 498 votes to 123 after a second ballot, with 80.2 per cent of members in favor.

That decision was swiftly followed by one from the R&A, which means Muirfield, which last hosted The Open in 2013 -- when Phil Mickelson won the tournament -- will again be eligible to stage the sport's oldest major championship.

Speaking outside the clubhouse, Fairweather said: "This is a significant decision for a club which was founded in 1744 and retains many of the values and aspirations of its founding members.

"We look forward to welcoming women as members who will enjoy, and benefit from, the great traditions and friendly spirit of this remarkable club."

Reigning Masters champion Danny Willett of England said of the vote, "I think it shows change in what is ordinarily an incredibly old golf club and there might be some of the old things that still go on there but you know, to pass women is a big thing for that golf club. I think that's great.

"I think it shows how times have changed. It shows how golf's changed."

The HCEG added in a statement: "The current waiting list for membership at Muirfield suggests that new candidates for membership, women and men, can expect to wait two to three years, or longer, to become a member of the club."

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers welcomed the decision in a statement that read: "Muirfield has a long and important history of hosting The Open and with today's announcement that will continue.

"It is extremely important for us in staging one of the world's great sporting events that women can become members at all of our host clubs.

"Muirfield is a truly outstanding Open venue and we very much look forward to taking the Championship back there in the future."

The earliest Muirfield could stage The Open is 2022.