The time has come for two very important votes to take place in Scotland.

Yes, two.

It would be easy to forget that the male-only membership of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is conducting a ballot on whether or not they should allow females to join.

Coincidence or not, the results will be revealed on September 18 – the same day as we learn whether or not people living in Scotland would like to remain part of Great Britain.

We debated this, the R&A vote not the Independence Referendum, on our website and in our magazines at the time the vote was announced.

Arguments were put forward about what practical impact it would have on the game of golf but it was widely accepted that this is a very significant moment.

When we asked a female, non-golfing member of staff what she thought about it, she was shocked to learn that there were golf clubs which didn’t allow female members.

Stunned that we were even talking about such a thing in the 21st Century.

In my opinion this is something which should have happened many years ago.

It is surely no coincidence that the announcement of this vote will happen on the same day as the most significant referendum in Scottish history.

I think the reason for this is two-fold. 

If the vote goes against allowing female members, how many column inches will be left to cover the story? 

Not many I suspect. We don’t need reminding of a phrase which can be related to this notion.

However, there will be plenty of space left for it on this website, in our two magazines and throughout the golfing press so the date clash is of little consequence in that respect.

If the members unanimously vote ‘yes’, there would still be just as little space for what is a good news story for golf and something which represents a change in attitudes among the game’s elite. 
Regardless of how the story is covered by the national, non-golf press, it doesn’t make the outcome any less significant Why wouldn’t the R&A want this to get the coverage it deserves?

It seems to me there’s almost a sheepish nature about it – trying not to draw too much attention to what in some people’s eyes, is a little bit embarrassing.

How can an organisation involved with ensuring the future of the game shun 50 per cent of the population?

Female membership numbers in Britain are way behind our European counterparts. Things may be better now than they were 40 or 50 years ago but there is still plenty of work to be done.

Regardless of how the story is covered by the national, non-golf press, it doesn’t make the outcome any less significant.

If the most influential golf club in the world decides to allow female members it means pressure will be applied on many others to ditch their male-only rules.

It will send out a message that women are not only more than welcome, but crucially important to the game’s future.

Surely the members at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews will do the right thing?


Subscribe to NCG