MUIRFIELD golf club is to review its ban on accepting women members.
The move comes after Scotland’s most famous course, St Andrews, wrote to its own members urging them to support abolition of male-only admission.
Critics of rules currently operated by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield said they were creating “barriers” to girls and young women looking to take up sport and called on the Gullane club to set “the best example” by dumping them.
The Royal and Ancient (R&A) in St Andrews formerly guardian of the rules of the game – has written to its 2500 members encouraging them to vote in favour of reversing the policy in a ballot to be held in September.
Leaders at Muirfield have no immediate plans to change membership criteria but say they will undertake a review.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for the Lothians, urged them to “waste no time” in following the lead of counterparts at the R&A.
She said: “I’m pleased to learn that Muirfield are reviewing their criteria – we need to do all that we can to encourage sporting activity. Some golf clubs have been suffering and the more inclusive a sport looks, the more likely people are to want to take part.“
Muirfield bosses found themselves at the centre of a storm when it was confirmed First Minister Alex Salmond would miss the 2013 Open – held at the club last summer – over a membership policy he described as “indefensible in the 21st century”.
The snub was followed by confirmation that, at 142,036, attendance at the 2013 event was well down on the 170,000 figure targeted by R&A chiefs.
Ms Johnstone said the membership review was a “perfect opportunity” to boost interest and would send out a more positive message about the accessibility of golf.
“Participation in sport from the age of 12 drops off markedly and we need to be doing all that we can as a country to get people involved,” she said.
“It seems a shame to put barriers in the way of their participation – surely leading clubs, such as Muirfield, should be setting the best example.If they’re not saying golf is for everyone, it’s not sending out a positive message.”
Leaders at Muirfield confirmed the club’s membership rules would be examined by a working group tasked with the challenge of “looking to the future”. A spokesman said: “The working group has been empowered to consult with the membership and to make recommendations to the board about our future.
“As a club, we comply fully with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and there are no current plans to change the membership criteria, but these will be reviewed.”
He added: “Most importantly, we intend to take the time to ensure that the plans we adopt will stand us in good stead, not only for the immediate future but for the next 270 years of our great club.”