Scottish Golf Courses

Long wait before women can join Muirfield

HCEG captain reveals that it could be up to seven years before the East Lothian club admits its first female member

By Martin Inglis

Women could face a six or seven-year wait to become members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield due to a ‘complex membership admissions process’.

Members of the East Lothian club recently voted in favour of admitting women – with 498 votes in favour (80.2%) and 123 votes against – overturning a vote cast ten months earlier which failed to surpass the two-thirds majority needed.

The R&A immediately placed Muirfield back on The Open rota, with it likely to stage the event in either 2022 or 2023, but a lengthy wait is expected before the first female member is admitted.

“Our members were quite clear that they wanted women to be treated not in any artificial way and they will have the same admissions process as men,” said captain Henry Fairweather.

“They need to be proposed and seconded by members, then go before a candidate sub-committee and then they’ll go onto a waiting list. So it’s the same process as men.

“It’s all by proposal as is normal for a private members’ club. Five-hundred members have supported women members so we’ll be looking for them to come forward with proposals.

“It’s quite a complicated admissions process. There is no standard length of time but on average it takes six-to-seven years. It can be accelerated or slowed down depending on the calibre of the application but the earliest point will likely be two years.”

The focus at Muirfield will now switch to improving facilities for women, with scheduled improvements put on hold while the issue was ongoing.


“We do need to improve our facilities,” added Mr Fairweather. “Our ladies locker room is not adequate for either visitors or for members so we have plans to improve that.”

Unlike the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers have no plans to admit any female honorary members. The Duke of Edinburgh is currently the club’s only honorary member.

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy launched a scathing attack on the club shortly after news broke of its successful vote, branding it ‘obscene’ that it took them two goes to admit women members.

“Muirfield isn’t one of my favorite Open courses, so no matter the decision, if it had been kept off the Open rota, I wouldn’t have been that unhappy,” said McIlroy, who missed the cut there in the 2013 Open.


“I mean, in this day and age, where you’ve got women that are like the leaders of certain industries and women that are heads of state and to not to be able to join a golf course? I mean, it’s obscene. It’s ridiculous.

“So, they sort of saw sense. I still think that it got to the stage, this stage, is horrendous. Every time I go to Muirfield now I won’t have a great taste in my

“I just don’t get it. We’ll go back there for the Open at some point and I won’t be having many cups of tea with the members.” afterwards.”

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