ST. ANDREWS -- The Royal & Ancient Golf Club will vote in September on whether to have women as members for the first time in its 260-year history.
A statement from the club Wednesday said all committees are "strongly in favour of the rule change and are asking members to support it."
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.
Pressure has been building in recent years on the R&A to change its men-only policy, especially after Augusta National Golf Club announced in August 2012 that it was inviting two women to join -- former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore.
The British Open last year was held at Muirfield, one of three links courses on the Open rotation that does not allow female members.
"This is welcome news from the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and I urge its members to follow their committees' recommendations and vote 'yes' for women members," British sports minister Helen Grant said in a statement. "It would mark a step in the right direction for the sport and I would hope encourage the remaining golf clubs that still have anachronistic single-sex member policies to follow suit."
It was unclear how a favourable vote would affect whether golf clubs that host the Open would change their policies. The next Open at a male-only club is in 2016 at Royal Troon.
The R&A governs golf everywhere in the world except for the United States and Mexico. It also organizes the British Open and other championships. However, it shifted responsibility for the Open and administering the Rules of Golf to a separate entity in 2004 known as The R&A.