Following hard on the heels of the Muirfield fiasco, Royal Troon is poised to take women members ahead of this year’s Open Championship. A special general meeting has been called for 1 July where the club’s constitution will be adjusted to allow for a mixed membership.
Martin Cheyne, the club captain, says that a further statement will be made after the meeting.
Originally, the club were not planning to announce any changes before the end of the year. However, the R&A’s decision to cut Muirfield from the Open rota in the immediate wake of their “no-women” vote, prompted Royal Troon’s Open-loving membership to move more swiftly.
“Recently,” said Cheyne, “we spoke about the need for our club to reflect the modern society in which we exist and I am pleased that a large majority of members who responded to our survey agree and support opening the club to women.”
Perhaps because Royal Troon boasts a much younger membership than Muirfield, with 38 players younger than age 30, the ‘large majority’ Cheyne mentioned is as high as 75 per cent.
“Looking ahead to the Open championship,” continued Cheyne, “we want Scotland to be proud of Royal Troon Golf Club and the Ladies’ Golf Club as we jointly host this most prestigious competition in front of a worldwide audience.”
Only a month ago, Ken Arthur, a former headmaster who captained the club between 2009 and 2011, said that he, personally, saw the introduction of women members as “a moral imperative.”
Arthur also suggested a way ahead which, interestingly, was totally at odds with what Muirfield had in mind if their membership had come up with a “yes” vote. Where Muirfield were planning on doing what they do with their men in putting the women on a waiting list (currently between five and six years) Arthur wanted a big enough group of women to spark a bit of momentum: “If there are only a couple of girls or a small group of women, that’s not going to be enough to make for a good membership experience.”
It was a fortnight ago that Eleanor Cannon, the new chair of Scottish Golf, passed on that the membership of Royal Troon had been shocked by the media outcry about their single-sex policy. And that the club had been still more taken aback by the still more savage response to Muirfield’s vote to remain as an all-male club.
“Royal Troon,” said Cannon, “have worked so hard to get this year’s Open staged and they don’t want all that work to be in vain. What they want is for their championship to be about golf.”