Rory McIlroy has urged Muirfield to “see some sense” and reconsider its membership policy after the club was dropped from the Open Championship rota.
After a vote on accepting women members narrowly failed to achieve the two-thirds majority required, the R&A announced that the Scottish course would no longer be considered to host the game’s oldest major championship.
McIlroy, who won the Claret Jug at Hoylake in 2014, said: “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. Hopefully they can see some sense and we can get it back there one day.
“The R&A did the right thing. It’s 2016 and we have to move with the times. It’s taken long enough. 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.”
Muirfield has staged the Open 16 times and produced a who’s who of champions, including Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo (twice), Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.
Player echoed McIlroy’s sentiments, writing on Twitter: “As much as I love and respect Muirfield as a club where I won the Open, I totally agree with the R&A that staging the championship at any venue that does not admit women is simply unacceptable.
“I hope Muirfield will reconsider their position soon and continue hosting one of the world’s greatest golf events.”
Of the 648 members who were eligible to vote, 616 took part with 397 voting in favour and 219 against. A total of 411 yes votes was required.