The Scottish Vote That Will Finally Benefit Women

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The big news out of Scotland was the historic independence vote which would see the northern United Kingdom nation separate from its arch nemesis England. The result was a resounding “no” and so things will stay the same, and the Scots won’t see progression on that front just yet. However another very important Scottish Vote was happening at the same time, in the world of golf.

The Royal And Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews is a golfing institution, often considered the “spiritual home” of golf. The club has been around for 260 years (founded in 1754), and for 26o of those years (i.e., the whole entire existence up until now) there has not been one single female member. What’s the deal Scottish golfers?! Women like to wear tartan too you know!

In a sign of the times and the acknowledgement that the ancient barriers no longer apply in many social and cultural settings, the club decided it needed to move ahead with allowing female members. The LPGA tour is played at St. Andrews for the British Open, so to finally allow women into the club on equal footing is not just awesome but it is about freakin’ time!

Of the club’s 2400 male members, three quarters voted on the landmark decision, with 85% in favor of women in the club, the New York Times reports.

The policy will take effect immediately, and the club said some women would be put on a fast track for membership to avoid languishing on the long waiting list.

The reason for the club taking on this vote? In 2012, the other home of golf, August National Golf Club in Florida which is also home to the Masters, made a similar move finally admitting female members for the first time in its 80 year history. Condoleezza Rice, the former United States secretary of state, and Darla Moore, a South Carolina businesswoman were the first women to wear the badge of honor there.

Peter Dawson, secretary of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, was the one pushing for this vote.

“This is a very important and positive day in the history of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. I think it is a very positive message for the game of golf,” he said while reading from a statement on the day of the announcement, Thursday Sept 18.

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“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.”

Louise Richardson, the president of St. Andrews University who is considered a possible candidate for membership weighed in on the result.

“I am delighted that the R & A have decided to modernize their membership practices. I look forward to seeing women as full and equal members of this influential organization and I wish the club every success for the future.”

Catriona Matthew, a Scottish golfer who won the 2009 Women’s British Open said she was delighted with the news.

“I think they had to take in ladies. Just for the position they have in golf, they had to be seen to have equality.”

Aside from the impact on gender equality, this vote is significant in terms of a major sporting competition.

“This is a historic and significant vote for the running of golf. With the sport returning to the next Olympics it would have been wholly inappropriate for the one of the game’s leading bodies to be intrinsically linked with a club that has discriminatory membership policies,” said BBC’s golf correspondent Iain Carter.

Well-known golf player Rory McIlroy shared his thoughts on the vote for female members at St. Andrews, saying it shouldn’t have taken this long for one of the world’s oldest sports organizations to see the value in equality.

“It is a pity some golf clubs have been quite slow on the uptake. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or woman, black or white, everyone should have equal opportunities to do anything you want, whether to join a golf club, or get a job.”

To that we say “Amen!” and bring on the bagpipes, the ladies are a’comin!

royal-and-ancient-golf-club-female-members

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