ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Just because the home of the Masters now has female members, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club has no plans to pressure the all-male clubs in the British Open rotation to change its membership policies.
The British Open is being played this summer at Muirfield, which has no female members.
''There is nothing wrong under UK legislation with a single-sex club as long as they behave under the equality act as far as guest access is concerned, which Muirfield certainly does,'' R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said Tuesday. ''And to think the R&A might say to a club like Muirfield, 'You are not going to have the Open anymore unless you change your policy,' is frankly a bullying position that we would never take.''
Attention on all-male clubs that host golf tournaments has shifted across the Atlantic Ocean to the oldest championship. Muirfield, Royal St. George's and Royal Troon as the three clubs in the Open rotation that do not have women as members.
Augusta National, for the first time in its 80-year history, invited two women to join the club last summer. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore were seen in their members' green jackets at the Masters two weeks ago.
Dawson said only 1 percent of golf clubs in Britain have single-gender policies, most of them in Scotland. He noted that Muirfield has twice held the Curtis Cup – matches between female amateurs from the U.S. and Britain and Ireland – and that the British Women's Amateur will be held next year at Royal St. George's.
''Muirfield has a huge history when it comes to the Open Championship and this will be the 16th time that is has been played there, and who are we to say what they should do as they are behaving perfectly legally,'' Dawson said.