LONDON â At the worldâs oldest golf club, no amount of money was enough to allow a woman to become a member. Until now.
Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland, one of Britainâs last remaining holdouts against female membership, voted on Tuesday to admit women as members for the first time in its 273-year history. The club previously allowed women to play only on certain days as guests of current members.
The club voted on allowing women to join in May 2016, but the resolution fell just short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass.
That decision prompted the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which organizes the Open Championship â otherwise known as the British Open â to stop using Muirfield as a site for the competition.
âA lot of our members were taken aback by the criticism we got in the press at that time,â Henry Fairweather, the captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns and plays at Muirfield, said in a telephone interview.
The club decided to vote again after several members expressed their disappointment that women were not allowed to join, even though a majority of the members favored admitting them. This time, just over 80 percent of the 621 members who voted wanted to allow women.
The (positive) reaction was swift.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club said in a statement on Twitter that Muirfield could once again host the British Open, while the Ladies European Tour said it was delighted by the vote.
âSports reflect the values of the society in which we live and today men and women have equal rights,â Ivan Khodabakhsh, the chief executive of the tour, said in a statement.
But even though the changes take effect immediately, it could be at least two years, and perhaps longer, before a woman becomes a member, Mr. Fairweather said, because there is a long waiting list for membership and potential members must be proposed by current ones.
The R&A in St. Andrews, Scotland, itself voted to start accepting women in 2014, paving the way for other golf courses. Royal Troon, also in Scotland, and Royal St. Georgeâs Golf Club in Sandwich, England, had been the other British Open sites that did not allow women but they have changed their rules since the R&Aâs decision, leaving Muirfield as one of the final holdouts.
Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A, supported the second ballot, saying in a BBC interview that the first one had âcreated a lot of negative press.â
âI do believe that if we are going to grow participation in the game, family golf is at the heart of that strategy,â Mr. Slumbers added. âI still believe that getting more women as members of golf clubs, more women bringing children to play, clubs creating opportunities for young children to play, or even new facilities growing for children to learn to play, thatâs whatâs important for the future generations.â
The topic of allowing women to become members of golf clubs â long male-only enclaves â has attracted attention in recent years as even women who worked their way to the top of their professions found themselves excluded.
One of the most notable such cases involved Virginia Rometty, who did not receive an invitation to join Augusta National Golf Club in 2012 after becoming chief executive of I.B.M. Her four predecessors were given membership to the club, which hosts the Masters, a tournament of which I.B.M. was a sponsor.
Augusta National did eventually admit women. The first female members were Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, and Darla Moore, a South Carolina businesswoman, while Ms. Rometty became a member in 2014.
As the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 draw closer, attention could shift toward Kasumigaseki Country Club, where the menâs and womenâs golf tournaments will be held during the games and which still denies women full membership.
At Muirfield, the club will have to work to persuade the 123 members that voted against allowing women that the fabric of life at the club will stay that same.
Some, according to Mr. Fairweather, were concerned that the admission of women might mean they would not be able to continue playing the speedy type of golf that they usually do.
âWe do enjoy ourselves here,â he said.