The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland announced February 10th that seven women have accepted invitations to become honorary club members. The private club, which has a membership of 2,400, voted to end 260 years of male-only exclusivity by voting in favor of inviting women to join. The R&A said that in addition to the honorary members, a number of women have been admitted as members of the club with more set to follow in the coming months. Traditionally the club does not reveal the identities of actual members, men or women.
Annika Sorenstam, a 10 time major champion who lives in Orlando and has a golf school at Reunion, was one of the seven. Princess Anne, who competed in equestrian for Great Britain at the 1976 Olympics and is an IOC member, was also invited, joining her father Prince Philip, brother Prince Andrew and the Duke of Kent. The Princess Royal enjoys a strong bond with Scotland and has shown great energy and commitment to developing sport through her work in the Olympics. Golf is returning to the Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after an absence of more than a century.
“This is an historic day for the R&A Club and we could not be more proud also to welcome women who have distinguished themselves in golf over many years and have been great players and champions,” said R&A captain George Macgregor. “They are extremely worthy additions to our roll of honorary members and will become ambassadors for the club as they have been for the sport of golf throughout their careers.”
Two other British honorary members are Laura Davies, a 4 time major winner, and amateur great Belle Robertson. Davies with 79 total professional wins said, “It was a great honor to be included. Obviously I’m going to have lots of friends now because if I get a tee time, they’ll want to come and play. It’s just great to have it bestowed on you”
Two U.S. Women were admitted: Renee Powell, only the second black player to compete on the LPGA Tour, and Louise Suggs, a co-founder of the LPGA and former President who won 11 majors. Competing the list is Frenchwoman Lally Segard, who won 14 titles before becoming president of the World Amateur Golf Council, which is now known as the International Golf Federation.