A day after Muirfield announced it was continuing its 272-year policy of having all-male membership, world No. 3 Rory McIlroy implored the Scottish club, known as the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, to reconsider.
“They can do what they want, but, in this day and age, it’s not right to host the world’s biggest tournament at a place that does not allow women to become members," McIlroy said Thursday at the Irish Open, which he is hosting. "Hopefully they can see some sense and we can get it back there one day."
Muirfield is a 16-time host of the Open Championship, last doing so when Phil Mickelson won his lone Claret Jug there in 2013. However, the R&A has made it clear that it will no longer stage the Open at a club which does not allow female members. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, of which the R&A is an off-shoot, admitted female members for the first time in 2014. Royal St. George's, another Open rota venue, ended its all-male membership policy in 2015.
This year's Open host, Royal Troon, has separate membership clubs for men and women, with separate clubhouses. It is considering combining the membership.
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McIlroy supports the R&A's decision, saying that, while Muirfield is a great course, there are plenty of others -- Royal Porthcawl, Royal Cinque Ports, Royal Co. Down, among others -- that can easily replace it in the Open rotation.
“The R&A did the right thing. It’s 2016 and we have to move with the times. It’s taken long enough," McIlroy said. "Even the R&A only started letting women join last year or whatever it was (2014). It’s about time that they did. Bigger picture, it’s a great golf course, but there’s so many other great golf courses that we play on the Open rota that we’re not going to miss one. I think it’s more their loss than it is the R&A’s or our loss. If that’s what they want to do, obviously it’s a free world and they can do that. But they must have known that it was going to cause this sort of controversy.”