Historic St Andrews Golf Club may open door for women members

ONE of St Andrews’ oldest golf clubs could be about to accept women members for the first time.

The St Andrews Golf Club has written to all its members explaining the implications of the Equality Act, which became law last year.

Members of the club are scheduled to meet later this month to discuss the options available and it is believed club officials have recommended that in future all members and guests, male and female, be allowed access to all public areas of the clubhouse.

The club was formed in 1843 and was initially known as the St Andrews Mechanics’ Golf Club. It’s clubhouse on The Links looks out onto the 18th green of the Old Course.

The Equality Act was brought in to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. It brought together and simplified previous legislation with the aim to protect individuals from unfair treatment and promote fairness.

Single sex clubs are not banned by the act, but private clubs are prevented from discriminating on the basis of gender.

Accusations of sexism have been levelled at clubs in St Andrews in the past.

In 2009, First Minister Alex Salmond called on the Royal and Ancient Golf Club to offer St Andrews University principal Professor Louise Richardson a membership.

Mr Salmond described the offer of membership to the principal as a “long-standing practice,” but the R and A refuted that claim, saying it had only happened twice before.

Also that year, Professor Richardson withdrew support for the male-only Kate Kennedy Club claiming that backing any group which excludes on the grounds of race or gender would be “completely at odds with the values of the university.”

To date, the Royal and Ancient has never had a female member.

However, in 2007, the Women’s British Open was played over the Old Course and more than 150 of the world’s top female golfers were given access to the exclusive Royal & Ancient clubhouse - but only for the duration of the tournament.

The landmark meeting of the St Andrews Golf Club is due to be held on May 26.