CRITICS have slammed one of the last bastions of men-only golf clubs after its members voted to keep women out.
Edinburgh’s Royal Burgess club called the referendum on its future, but less than a third of those eligible to vote favoured admitting females.
It is believed that 418 votes were cast on the motion, which only took place after gaining narrow support – 69 votes to 64 – at an informal members’ meeting at the end of October.
Graham Callander, general manager at Royal Burgess, said: “It is an internal matter for the members, something we feel should remain internal and that’s the reality of where we are. It would be inappropriate to say anything more.”
Of those who took part in the poll, 43.3 per cent voted in favour of breaking tradition with 56.7 per cent against. The breakdown meant that only 29.8 per cent of the members eligible to vote backed the proposal.
Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said: “It is worrying to see when you put it to the vote there are still men out there that don’t want to let women into this golf club. I don’t think you can call it progress – progress would have been them changing their mind.”
However, Shona Malcolm, chief executive officer of the Ladies’ Golf Union, the encompassing body for ladies’ amateur golf in Britain and Ireland, said the result was encouraging as a number of members had voted for change.
She said: “There are female-only members clubs out there and no-one’s getting excited about those. I feel we have to be realistic about these things. The fact that the club has gone to the membership and asked them is progress in itself. I’m sure many others will follow suit.”
One of only ten royal golf clubs in Scotland, the move to allow women members would have brought pressure to bear on the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers to follow suit, after this year’s Open at Muirfield took place against a backdrop of controversy due to its men-only policy.
First Minister Alex Salmond boycotted the event over its stance but was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Sports Minister Shona Robison said: “The Scottish Government is committed to promoting equality of opportunity and we believe that all golf clubs should be open to both men and women. Scotland is the undisputed Home of Golf and whilst membership is a matter for clubs, I believe they should offer equal access.”