Sunday 23 October 2016

Royal Troon captain unwilling to speculate on vote to admit women members

Published 20/05/2016 | 08:01

Muirfield will not host another Open Championship unless club members change their policy on admitting women
Muirfield will not host another Open Championship unless club members change their policy on admitting women

Royal Troon captain Martin Cheyne believes it would be "ill-advised" to speculate on the outcome of the club's vote to admit women members, despite the reaction to Muirfield's decision on the issue.

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After Muirfield's vote on changing its male-only membership policy narrowly failed to achieve the two-thirds majority required, the R&A immediately announced that the East Lothian course had been dropped from the Open Championship rota.

That leaves Troon as the only course on the nine-strong rota to have such a policy, with Royal St George's voting last year to admit women members.

Troon has always considered itself a special case in this respect as it shares facilities with the Ladies Golf Club, Troon. Both clubs will shoulder the responsibility of hosting the Open via a joint Championship Committee.

A ''comprehensive review'' of membership policy was announced by Troon in January 2015, but the issue will not be resolved until the ''back end'' of 2016.

"The decision was one for Muirfield members to make and the media response was predictable," Cheyne told Press Association Sport. "I think for us it means our process is the right process and we will see that through to the conclusion."

Asked if the reaction to Muirfield would speed up Troon's review, Cheyne added: "At the moment we are in the middle of the survey process and until that comes back we will make no decisions.

"I think what our members will do is view the results of Muirfield's vote and that will inform any decision they make. I think it will help to clarify their decision.

"To try and anticipate the results would be ill-advised, but I think that given the position of both Muirfield and the R&A that they will take it into account."

In a letter to members last week, Cheyne said: " We care very much for the reputation of Royal Troon Golf Club and it is important that the club, much like the wider game, reflects the modern society in which we exist."

In theory, Muirfield members can put forward a resolution at any time to change the club's rules and f ormer Open champion Rory McIlroy called on them to "see some sense" so the Open can return.

Ivan Khodabakhsh, the chief executive of the Ladies European Tour, finds it hard to believe the issue is still having to be discussed.

"We are in the 21st century. Even having this discussion is embarrassing," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "Let's just put it behind us and move on. Certainly the Ladies European Tour won't ever have a tournament in a club which is male-only.

"Let us just put the decision of Muirfield aside as a private club. They can decide what they want to do but they can't have the exposure in the world the way they want it.

"But I have to say at the same time I'm very pleased about the R&A's decision. The R&A has been a huge supporter of the Ladies European Tour and the women's golf game.

"Scotland as well, which is hosting the Solheim Cup in 2019, has shown very clearly how they support the women's agenda and the women's sport agenda."

Press Association

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