R&A vote on women members welcomed
Politicians have welcomed the decision of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews to allow women members for the first time in its 260-year history.
Club secretary Peter Dawson announced that the membership had voted overwhelmingly in favour of the move.
He said: "More than three quarters of the club's global membership took part in the ballot, with a decisive 85% voting for women to become members. This vote has immediate effect and I can confirm that The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is now a mixed membership club.
"The membership has also acted to fast-track a significant initial number of women to become members in the coming months.
"This is a very important and positive day in the history of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. The R&A has served the sport of golf well for 260 years and I am confident that the club will continue to do so in future with the support of all its members, both women and men."
Minister for Sport Helen Grant said: "I am pleased that the members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews have voted in favour of admitting women members.
"This is positive news for the sport and I hope we will now see other golf clubs that still have outdated same-sex policies follow suit. With golf in the next Olympics there is a huge opportunity for the sport to grow and this sends out the right inclusive message that golf is for everyone."
In Scotland Cabinet Secretary for Sport and Equalities Shona Robison also praised the decision, adding: "In the week before Scotland welcomes golf fans from across the world for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, this decision by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews to admit women members is another step on the road to full equality in sport and society.
"This decision by the world's most exclusive and prestigious golf club sees real progress towards making golf a more equal sport, which is very important.
"We firmly believe that there should be no barriers at all to being involved in sport with everyone able to participate in and enjoy sport - whoever they are and whatever their background. I hope this welcome development leads the few remaining single-gender golf clubs to take a similar path."