Royal Troon will host 2016 Open Championship as a men-only golf club
Royal Troon will definitely not be a mixed-sex club before hosting this year’s Open Championship, although the club is on course to vote on the controversial issue by the end of the year.
Troon and Muirfield are the only remaining clubs on the 10-strong Open rota to have a male-only membership policy, with Royal St George’s voting last year to admit women members. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews also voted to end its 260-year-old male-only membership policy in September 2014.
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 and the issue will not be resolved until towards the end of this year.
Troon’s captain, Martin Cheyne, said: “What’s important is that we do this thoroughly and properly. We have 138 years of history across the two clubs and it’s important that we get this right.
“We are in frequent contact with the Ladies Golf Club, Troon, to make sure that they are up to speed with what we are doing. Every meeting we have had with them has been positive and supportive of the process. They have indicated that any change that we would have to make is not something they are looking for.
“What’s important to understand with that is the internal relationships we have, where the ladies can play the Old Course free of charge, any day of the week, and the shared facilities we have. I do talk about one venue and two clubhouses and I think it’s important we understand that.
“But the external world has changed in 138 years and it would be wrong not to acknowledge that and [consider] are we in a position to support the future development of golf at all ages and all genders with the current structure?”
Troon have commissioned the research consultancy nfpSynergy to lead the review process, with a survey due to be sent to members in June. An analysis of that will be sent to the club in August and Cheyne expects a special general meeting will be held “at the back end of the year”.
An R&A spokesman said on Tuesday: “The review is under way and we await the outcome with interest. It’s important the club has the time to do this review thoroughly and in their own way. We have to give them the space to do that. It’s up to them to decide on the timescale.”
Muirfield, which is owned and run by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, is also reviewing its membership criteria.
Meanwhile, spectators at Troon will get a unique view of one of the most famous holes in golf, tournament officials announced on Tuesday. A wire camera will run the length of the 8th hole, known as the Postage Stamp, with cameras also placed in all five greenside bunkers on the 123-yard par three.
Rhodri Price, the R&A’s director of championship operations, said: “I have been desperate to put a wire camera on the course for years but, due to the playing conditions of golf in terms of ball flight, particularly from the likes of Bubba Watson, it is very difficult normally to place a wire camera on the course without it getting in the way of play.
“We recognise that, due to the short distance of the Postage Stamp, there was scope to get a wire camera in there on this iconic part of the golf course with the wonderful views.
“It will go all the way from the tee to a little winter green to the left of the green. The Postage Stamp was screaming out to be a feature hole.”
Whether Tiger Woods will be captured on camera there remains to be seen, although the 14-times major winner has already registered for June’s US Open. Woods has until the middle of May to do the same for the Open but an R&A spokesman said: “We’ve had no indication at the moment but obviously we would welcome any of the players and particularly Tiger Woods.”