The R&A has written a letter to its 2,400 members recommending that they allow women to join the club.
For the past 260 years the R&A has been a male-only institution, despite mounting political and social pressure.
Now, the club will meet in the spring to discuss the gender issue and then conduct a formal vote in September. A R&A spokesman said in a statement: “The Club’s committees are strongly in favor of the rule change and are asking members to support it.”
The move was first reported by the Daily Mail. The newspaper reported that Wilson Sibbet, chairman of the club’s championship committee, recently wrote a letter that stated, in part:
“Now is the time to ask members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club to welcome female members into the club. It is of course for members to decide if they wish to alter the rules of the club to give effect to this change of policy.”
Gary Player, a three-time Open champion, took to Twitter Wednesday morning to voice his support for the vote:
Like Augusta National, the R&A at last realizes that you cannot lead by example, grow the game & exclude women members. Respect— Gary Player (@garyplayer) March 26, 2014
Last year’s Open Championship was held at Muirfield, a male-only club, and first minister Alex Salmond refused to attend in protest.
R&A chief executive Peter Dawson acknowledged at Muirfield that the issue was “divisive” and one that “we’re finding increasingly difficult.” He added that the subject would be addressed after the Open.