IRELAND’S most high profile golfers have thrown their weight behind the decision to remove Muirfield Golf Club from the British Open rota following their insistence on prolonging their rule against accepting female members.
The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG) run the prestigious club and on Thursday members took a vote on whether or not they should amend their age-old regulation.
A two thirds majority in favour of change was needed to amend the rule, but it narrowly failed to meet the required amount of votes.
As a result, R&A – The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, who have control over where the British Open is staged – removed Muirfield as one of the listed candidates fit enough to stage the legendary annual Major.
Muirfield last staged the Open in 2013, but they won’t host it again anytime soon unless they reconsider their membership policies, something the likes of Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry have all encouraged the club to do.
“They can do what they want but in this day and age it’s not right to host the world’s biggest tournament at a place that does not allow women to become members,” said world number three McIlroy.
Hopefully they can see some sense and we can get it back there one day. The R&A did the right thing.
It’s 2016 and we have to move with the times. It’s taken long enough. Even the R&A only started letting women join last year or whatever it was . It’s about time that they did.
Bigger picture, it’s a great golf course, but there’s so many other great golf courses that we play on the Open rota that we’re not going to miss one.
I think it’s more their loss than it is the R&A’s or our loss. If that’s what they want to do, obviously it’s a free world and they can do that. But they must have known that it was going to cause this sort of controversy.
Harrington, meanwhile, insists he still wants to be able to play another Major at Muirfield, but believes the club need to pay greater attention to how other prestigious clubs have progressed.
“I love playing the golf course, it’s a great golf course,” he told RTÉ. “But there’s more to modern golf than just the golf course. We see that here in Ireland ourselves.
“We’ve seen the R&A take in women members, we’ve seen Augusta take in women members. Gone are the days when you can discriminate in a club where other people want to join.
“At the end of the day the R&A have a bigger responsibility, not just to the game of golf, but to society and they’ve done the right thing.”
Offaly native Shane Lowry also had his say on the matter, saying women have always been involved in golf clubs he’s been associated with.
He said: “If Muirfield want to get The Open back they’re probably going to have to go the other way, that’s just my opinion. Anywhere I’ve grown up [playing at golf clubs], you always had women around it.”