The Royal & Ancient Golf Club, exclusively for men since it was founded 260 years ago at St. Andrews, will vote in September on whether women can join the club.
"It's an exciting day for the club," R&A club secretary Peter Dawson said Wednesday. "There will be quite a bit of internal discussion between now and the September vote. It's a matter for the members to determine. All indications are very supportive."
A statement from club said that all committees were "strongly in favor of the rule change" and asked members to go along.
The move was hailed by British sports minister Helen Grant, who was hopeful a favorable vote would encourage other single-sex golf clubs to follow suit.
Dawson, however, said the vote would have no bearing on whether the British Open is played on links courses that exclude women as members — Royal St. George's, Royal Troon and Muirfield, where Phil Mickelson won last year. The Open returns to Troon in 2016.
"I don't want you to think there's any connection between this vote and these issues," Dawson said. "What other clubs choose to do in the UK is not connected to this. ... To be entirely honest, we're not here to put pressure on other clubs that have supported The Open Championship and other R&A championships."
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews has about 2,400 members from around the world and dates to 1754. The clubhouse is among the most famous buildings in golf, overlooking the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Augusta National for years was the symbol of men-only golf clubs because it hosts The Masters every April. The club announced in August 2012 that it had invited women to join for the first time — former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore.
Even though Augusta National went 80 years without a female member, it had no policy that barred women from joining. The R&A had such a policy, and that's what will be voted on in September.
Dawson said he did not think Augusta National's decision had any bearing on the R&A Golf Club.
"We noted what happened at Augusta," he said. "They have their own procedure of doing things. We are doing this because of our governance role."
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