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Pressure intensifies on R&A
Last updated: 11th November 2012
UK Sports minister Hugh Robertson has called for only clubs that allow women members to be allowed to host the Open Championship from now on.
Robertson's call comes just days after outgoing British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan urged the St Andrews-based R&A to join Augusta National - venue for the Masters each April - in finally dropping its own men-only membership stance.
"It is increasingly anachronistic not to allow women to be members," Robertson told the Sunday Times.
"The defence of the Royal and Ancient is that it is a private club and so has the right to do what it wants.
"That is legally correct and I have no quarrel when it is acting as a private club. However, I believe that when a private club fulfils a public function, such as staging a major event, then there is a different slant."
Asked whether clubs such as Muirfield, which next July stages the championship for the 16th time, should be awarded it in future he added: "In all honesty, no.
"I think this issue should be addressed. Let's get on with providing equality of opportunity across all sports."
Alastair Brown, secretary of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield, told Press Association Sport today: "It's not our decision where the Open is. It's the decision of the R&A - it's their competition and they ask us.
"Augusta is a totally different situation. They own their event.
"We are fully compliant with the Equality Act and women have played here since 1891. I've given this reply several times and that is our stance."
The R&A did not issue a statement in response to Robertson's comments, but following the Augusta decision said: "The rules of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews specify a male membership and this policy remains a matter for our members to determine."
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