Pressure mounts over 'men only' Muirfield golf vote

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image captionMuirfield has been banned from hosting The Open as a result of the decision

Pressure is mounting on Muirfield Golf Club to reverse its decision not to allow women members.

A vote at the East Lothian club failed to rally a two-thirds majority of members behind allowing women to join.

East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray has lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament calling for the club to "consider the decision again".

David Cameron, Nicola Sturgeon and golf professionals, including Rory McIlroy, have also criticised the move.

Despite 64% of members voting to allow women, this fell short of the required two-thirds majority to change club rules.

The club has been barred from hosting the Open Championship as a result.

Mr Gray's motion says "every golf club in Scotland has a duty to be inclusive and reflect modern society and that to do so clubs need to be open to both male and female golfers".

image copyrightPA
image captionRory McIlroy is among a number of players who have criticised Muirfield's decision

It also says the decision was "disappointing for equality" and will have a "detrimental impact on East Lothian and its local economy through the loss of the opportunity to host major competitions such as the Open".

It adds that the club should consider the decision again at the earliest opportunity.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called Muirfield's rejection of women members "indefensible".

East Lothian MP George Kerevan has also called for the club to change its mind, saying the decision has "shredded" Muirfield's reputation and impacted dreadfully on the image of golf in Scotland.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, the SNP politician said: "I keep saying the reputational damage to Muirfield itself is so dreadful.

"I think the members, now they've woken up to these headlines, they'll be thinking 'oh we got that wrong'. There'll be a lot of discussion.

"So let's have another vote as soon as we can and get this off the table and get on with golf."

image copyrightSNS
image captionMuirfield has hosted the Open on 16 occasions since 1892, the last time being in 2013

Golf's governing body, the Royal and Ancient, said it would not stage the Open "at a venue that does not admit women as members".

Muirfield has previously hosted the Open Championship on 16 occasions since 1892, the last time being in 2013.

Prime Minister David Cameron has criticised Muirfield, and backed the decision to bar it from hosting the Open.

Leading players have also voiced their opposition to Muirfield's stance on women members.

At the Irish Open at the K Club in Kildare, world number three Rory McIlroy described the decision as "disappointing".

Scottish pro Catriona Matthew tweeted she was "embarrassed to be a Scottish woman golfer from East Lothian after that decision".

Denmark's Thomas Bjorn tweeted "Augusta and the R & A did it (admit women) but Muirfield "couldn't join us in the 21st century".

'Marry a member'

Ivan Khodabakhsh, chief executive of the Ladies European Tour, said: "The decision is appalling.

"We are in the 21st Century and we are talking about criteria which discriminate based on gender.

"I thought these things were left behind us in the late 19th/early 20th Century - discriminating against women, and setting criteria for membership based on gender. I'm speechless."

Meanwhile, golf commentator Peter Alliss suggested women who want to join Muirfield should "get married to someone who's a member".

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Alliss said the issue was "a very emotive subject".

He told the programme: "The women who are there are wives of husbands. They get all the facilities. If somebody wants to join, you'd better get married to someone who's a member."

Mr Alliss, 85, continued: "I believe clubs were formed years ago by people of like spirit - doctors, lawyers, accountants, bakers, butchers, whatever they like.

"And they joined in like spirit to talk amongst them and to do whatever. I want to join the WVS (Women's Voluntary Service) but unless I have a few bits and pieces nipped away on my body I'm not going to be able to get in."

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