Royal St George's golf club ends 128-year 'no women' rule

Royal St George's Image copyright Royal St George's
Image caption Royal St George's has hosted the Open 14 times, with the last tournament held there in July 2011

An Open golf venue in Britain has lifted its ban on female members for the first time in its 128-year history.

Royal St George's in Sandwich had been one of three clubs on the Open rota with a men-only membership policy.

A "decisive" 90% of members voted in favour of altering the Kent club's rules and allowing women to join with immediate effect.

In a statement, the club said it looked forward to welcoming ladies as junior and full members.

'Right decision'

It has hosted the Open 14 times, with the last tournament in July 2011.

Dame Laura Davies, who is one of Britain's most successful golfers, said it was "great to see" the club following in the footsteps of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in allowing female members.

She said: "It would seem to be the correct thing for a club that hosts a big sporting event such as the Open.

"It's such a great course that it deserves to hold prestigious golf events and I'm sure that this will ensure its long future in doing so."

Professional golfer Mel Reid, who has played in the Solheim Cup, also welcomed the decision.

She said: "Women golfers certainly want to be equal to the guys and this is another step towards that.

"Anything like this would always benefit the women's game."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Royal St George's course was said to have inspired the golf showdown in Ian Fleming's 007 novel Goldfinger

And golfer Jason Barnes, from Kent, said: "Obviously, it is the right decision.

"Golf needs to be brought up to date. I wish them the best of luck with it."

James Bond author Ian Fleming was captain-elect at Royal St George's before his sudden death in 1964.

The course was said to have inspired his idea for a golf showdown in the 007 classic Goldfinger.

Two remaining Open venues in Scotland have male-only membership policies - Muirfield in East Lothian and Royal Troon in South Ayrshire, which has separate men's and women's clubs.

At the end of January, Royal Troon announced that it would "shortly undertake a comprehensive review to consider the most appropriate membership policy for the future".

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