All change with Muirfield to host AIG Women’s Open in 2022 for first time… having only allowed female membership since 2017 after 270 years of men only
- Muirfield only recently voted to allow women to join, 270 years after it opened
- Now the AIG Women’s Open will be hosted at Muirfield for the first time in 2022
- The move does underline the determination of the R&A to right past wrongs
The frightful gales forecast for Thursday’s first round of the AIG Women’s Open are nothing compared to the winds of change blowing through this major championship.
As if it wasn’t enough for the women to break fresh ground with a first-ever professional tournament at Royal Troon this week, the event is headed to Muirfield in two years’ time.
Yes, the home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the snooty lot who usually revel in behaviour that counts as anything but.
Henry Fairweather announced that women would be allowed to play at Muirfield for the first time back in 2017 after a vote to change the club’s policy
It was not long after Martin Slumbers took over as CEO of the R&A in 2015 that the company were telling their then-captain Henry Fairweather to take a running jump with his idea of allowing women members for the first time in 270 years.
Now look at them, as they continue to dip their toes in the modern world. Not only was the decision reversed under pressure from Slumbers and the R&A, and the first female members admitted last year, the course will be positively overrun with women in 2022.
‘We couldn’t have a more ecstatic partner than the Honourable Company,’ claimed Slumbers, rather stretching the bounds of credulity.
The move does, however, underline the determination of the R&A under his stewardship to right past wrongs and guide the game to a place where its women golfers receive the sort of respect afforded to women tennis players.
The AIG Women’s Open will move to Muirfield for the very first time in two years
As well as Muirfield, the event will visit Carnoustie, Walton Heath, St Andrews and Royal Porthcawl up to 2025.
‘I think the world has changed a lot in the last five years and the game has changed, there is a lot more energy and commitment to make golf relevant to today’s society,’ said Slumbers.
‘I think our five-year plan is a huge statement of intent, as is putting on this year’s championship, despite all the challenges. It was not possible to do the men’s Open but with this event we wanted to wait as long as we could, because all along I have felt this deep responsibility to stage it.’
Chief Executive of the R&A Martin Slumbers is trying to right the wrongs of the past
Slumbers certainly hasn’t been rewarded with the weather. The forecast is so bad the thousands of spectators who usually attend this great event might be glad they have to watch it at home instead.
‘I have written to all the players because let’s not kid ourselves — it is going to be very tough for the first two days,’ said Slumbers, who revealed he had also pointed out the pace of play guidelines, following last week’s Scottish Open.
The action begins at 6.30am, with the first shot struck by the still-speedy Dame Laura Davies, now 56, who is afforded the honour in recognition of this being her 40th Open.