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Women golfers to be included in all-male governing committees

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For the first time, women will be allowed to join the governing committees that monitor the worldwide rules, amateur status and equipment of golf.

The committees at the Royal and Ancient (R&A) Golf Club of St Andrews govern the worldwide rules of the game – with the exception of the US and Canada – but have received criticism in the past for being too male-dominated.

The changes have taken effect this month, to coincide with the club’s 250th anniversary, but were first announced in autumn of last year.

The committees are made up of 30 members who serve a four-year tenure and the change has been welcomed as a valuable ‘first step’ by various golfing groups, including The Ladies’ Golf Union.

Michael Tate, assistant secretary at the R&A club said: “Although we have always had close liaisons with the Ladies’ Golf Union and other ladies’ golf associations around the world, this latest change, which is part of an ongoing review, means we’ve increased the possibility of ladies being able to sit and govern the game alongside us.”

Asked when the first woman committee member could be appointed, however, Tate demurred, saying: “At present, ladies won’t be allowed to be members of the club but there are two all-female clubs in St Andrews, which men, obviously, can’t be members of either.

He added: “We changed the rules to enable other people to join our committees. As we identify suitable people, they will be invited to join. It’s an ongoing process but it wouldn’t be good to put a direct date on when the first female committee member will be appointed. I don’t think we’ll be appointing any individuals, male or female, to prove a point.”

In response, the secretary for The Ladies’ Golf Union, Andy Salmon, said: “We’ve known about the changes since last year and we welcome them. However, we’ve had advisory committee members on the rules of golf and amateur status since 1992 so we’ve always had the opportunity to represent ladies’ golf through that medium.”

As a decision, Salmon welcomed the change to the committees as a positive move. He said: “It is a step in the right direction. The wider cross-section of people you have, providing they meet the criteria, the more representative the decisions will be. It’s not just a gender issue but one of full representation.” Details: www.randa.org or www.lgu.org

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For the first time, women will be allowed to join the governing committees that monitor the worldwide rules, amateur status and equipment of golf.
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