The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews announced Friday that it will use a postal ballot this fall to decide whether the club will admit its first female members.
The announcement breaks from tradition for the club, which typically allows votes on such issues only from the members gathered in person at the club's "business meeting" on the day of a vote.
"A postal ballot among members of the club on a motion to admit women as members will be conducted prior to the announcement of the result on 18 September 2014," a club statement read in part. "By taking this decision all members can take part in this historic vote."
The club was established in 1754, and in 2004 separated itself from the business entity known as the R&A, which today runs the Open Championship and oversees the Rules of Golf outside of the U.S. and Mexico. The club has about 2,400 members worldwide, a membership that over the course of more than two centuries has been entirely male.
The 2013 Open Championship was held at Muirfield, a club whose all-male membership created controversy that R&A chief Peter Dawson later called "divisive." The club announced in March that it would be taking the issue of female membership up for a vote, although the specifics of the vote were at that time undecided.