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Royal and Ancient moves to scrap male-only policy

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has made a move to end its contentious male-only membership stance by calling on its 2,400 members to vote in favour of abolishing the policy at a meeting in September.

Established in 1754, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club is regarded as the guardian of the rules of the game. Ahead of September’s meeting, the club has written to its members urging them to support a change in policy which would allow women members.

“It's a big day for the club,” R&A chief executive Peter Dawson told BBC Sport. “We've done this really because of our governance role in the game. We think it's very good for the governance of golf that we make this move. Sport has been changing, society has been changing and golf is part of that. We think it's time this change is made.”

Dawson said a vote against female membership would be an “undesirable” result. He added: “The early indication is that there is great support. We will have to see what happens.”

As the club celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2004 it devolved responsibility for the administration of the Rules of Golf, the running of the Open Championship and other key events, along with the development of the game in existing and emerging golfing nations, to a newly formed group of companies collectively known as the R&A. As a separate entity the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews remains as a private golf club with a worldwide membership of 2,400.

Today’s announcement follows the 2012 decision by the Augusta National Club, which hosts the Masters in the United States, to allow women to become members for the first time in its history.