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Butler National may add female members to attract a major

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Butler National Golf Club, a Chicago-area gem, is considering ending its practice of admitting only men onto its grounds according to the Chicago Tribune. The move would come with hopes of attracting a major championship.

The newspaper says that the club is studying the process of inviting women for the first time in the club’s nearly half-century history. The club is also considering what facilities it would have to add to accommodate female members.

The move is to attract the attention of the U.S. Golf Association and PGA of America, with hopes of landing a major championship in the next decade. If signaled by those bodies that Butler National – regularly ranked on various lists as one of the country’s 100 best golf courses – would be a suitable host, the club would take a vote of its membership to make the change.

Butler National is one of few clubs in the country which still restricts membership on the basis of sex. Its membership policy ended its 27-year reign as host of the Western Open after 1990, when the USGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and LPGA all decided to end relationships with host clubs which had discriminatory admissions practices.

In 1990, PGA Championship host Shoal Creek became a contentious site when its founder openly admitted the Alabama club discriminated against African-Americans for membership. The club has since changed its policy and hosted the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2008.