Muirfield banned from staging The Open

The Open Championship will no longer include East Lothian links golf club Muirfield on its rota of courses after the club voted to continue its policy of not accepting females as members.

Henry Fairweather, captain of “The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers” at Muirfield, said the resolution to invite women to join the world’s oldest club had fallen just short of the required two-thirds majority.

The Muirfield club committee had recommended that its members vote in favour of a resolution to admit women as members.

But a postal ballot of membersthat was checked by Electoral Reform Services did not reach the threshold.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland has women leaders in every walk of life. It is 2016. This is simply indefensible.”

The official result in the postal vote was 64% for the resolution and 36% against.

It us understood that 616 members, about 95 per cent of those allowed to vote, took part.

Votes in favour totaled 397 and votes against totaled 219.

Fairweather said: “The Honourable Company is a members club, and, as such, the members decide the Rules of the Club, including its membership policy.

“Women will continue to be welcome at Muirfield on the course and in the clubhouse as guests and visitors, as they have been for many years.”

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of golf’s governing body the Royal and Ancient said: “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.”

Scottish Golf said in a statement: “We are disappointed with today’s decision from The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield.

“We believe every golf club has a duty to be inclusive and to reflect modern society.

“We take some encouragement from the clear majority in favour of women members and hope that those who voted for change continue to make the case for the modernisation of their club.”

East Lothian Council chief executive Angela Leitch said: “East Lothian Council is extremely disappointed at the outcome of the vote at Muirfield on whether to accept female members.

“While the majority of members have voted in favour of a more inclusive approach, a minority have prevented a change which would have benefitted not only the club but the economy of East Lothian.

“As Scotland’s Golf Coast, East Lothian has a fantastic range of courses that suit all levels and budgets and we would encourage the membership of Muirfield to re-consider their position.”