ROYAL ABERDEEN GOLF CLUB will open its doors to women members for the first time in the club’s history, paving the way for it to return to the roster of clubs which host the Scottish Open.

Royal Aberdeen has, until now, been an all-male club, but around 150 members attended a special meeting and voted 97 percent in favour of updating the club’s membership policy and admitting women members.

Royal Aberdeen was founded in 1780 making it the sixth oldest club in the world and has been a male only club since its inception.

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The Scottish Open, which will take place in Gullane Links this summer, was last held at Royal Aberdeen in 2014, when Englishman Justin Rose took the title.

The decision to admit women members though significantly strengthens the club’s case for the tournament to return to the north-east of Scotland course, with suggestions it will be back at Royal Aberdeen as early as next summer.

The course has also previously held the British Senior Open in 2005 and the Walker Cup in 2011.

A statement from the club read: “The members of Royal Aberdeen Golf Club have overwhelmingly voted in support of a change to the club’s constitution whereby membership applications are no longer restricted to gentlemen.

“Royal Aberdeen Golf Club and Aberdeen Ladies’ Golf Club have set up a working group to discuss the possible impact on both clubs of this change,” while club secretary Ronnie MacAskill told STV News: “We’ve been around since 1780, that’s 238 years we’ve been a single-sex club.

“Every year we get new members in so we’re continually asking the opinion of members and we did that via a survey.

“The information we got back was that we should really address this. I think the days of single-gender clubs are slowly disappearing and we didn’t want to be left behind.”

The decision was also welcomed by Scottish Golf, with Eleanor Cannon, Executive Chair for Scottish Golf, saying: “I congratulate Royal Aberdeen on their decision to end their single gender membership policy. Scottish Golf is committed to making golf in Scotland an inclusive family-friendly sport. Clubs need to challenge behaviours, change culture and work harder to attract more women if we are to encourage families into the game.”

The move comes on the back of Muirfield Golf Club in East Lothian voting in March of last year to admits women, although that decision did not come without a significant struggle.

In 2016, the The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG), which runs the Muirfield course, voted against admitting members, which resulted in it being removed from the Open roster. The club attracted considerable criticism, including from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who called the move to continue to refuse admission to women indefensible and that it sent the wrong signal.

In the weeks following the decision to exclude Muirfield from consideration from hosting the Open, it was announced that another vote would take place.

In March of last year, Muirfield’s members finally voted in favour of admitting women members by a margin of 64 percent for and 36 against.

The vote surpassed the requirement that two-thirds of members supported the change – and it paved the way for Muirfield to get back into the Open championship fold.

The R&A, which organises the Open championship, duly announced Muirfield was back in the rotation to stage the world’s oldest major.