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Shona Malcolm, chief executive of LGU, refuses to demonise men-only clubs

Shona Malcolm's strategy is clear.

"Influence from the inside," says the Ladies' Golf Union's chief executive. It sounds more like some nod and a wink operation; an undercover, cloak and dagger sortie of intrigue and espionage designed to cause confusion behind enemy lines. Malcolm's mission is more of the 'we come in peace' variety, though.

From her St Andrews office she can hear the winds of change ­whistling up The Scores. The news that the Royal & Ancient Golf Club a few yards down the road could open the doors to women members is the talk of the golfing steamie as the single-sex issue in golf continues to provoke plenty of chatter. Amid the din, Malcolm has always been a calm, reasoned voice and she will continue with her quiet, measured approach.

"There was a Twitter comment from one female commentator saying something along the lines that 'the R&A are allowing women, we'll all have to wear tartan trousers and grow moustaches now'," said Malcolm after trawling through the online reaction to Wednesday's signifi­cant statement. "I thought how disrespectful that is to the 167,000 ladies who are members of golf clubs. Comments like that don't help. It's just rubbishing the game of golf and doing nothing for women."

Less talk, more positive action is very much Malcolm's way. This season, the LGU's Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship will be held at male-only Royal St George's. Last year, the Women's Amateur Strokeplay Championship was staged at male-only Prestwick, while this summer's Scottish Women's Amateur Championship will be played over the old Ayrshire links. Far from boycotting such venues - as some have suggested the good ladies should do - Malcolm prefers to embrace them.

"I would be very happy to take our Open to a male-only club," said Malcolm of the LGU's flagship major championship. "I think you are far better influencing from the inside.

"Look at the Women's Amateur at St George's. We take 144 young girls from a whole new generation, who can hit the ball a mile and will play the course beautifully. It doesn't matter how a club is constituted, we just want to go to the best courses and show what these girls can do. The message to the members would be that they are not a threat. We have had Curtis Cups at St George's and Muirfield before and I have always found an enthusiasm from those clubs for hosting events."

With the R&A taking a telling lead this week, officials at Muirfield have stated their intentions to consult with members on the "best way forward" while Royal St George's released a statement saying that the club has been considering its position as a single-sex club for a while. Royal Troon, another male-only club on the R&A's Open Championship rota, has no plans to change its structure and, having happily co-existed with Troon Ladies next door, Malcolm, an Ayrshire lass herself, believes it is wrong to demonise the 2016 Open venue.

"They are being wrongly tarred in my view," she added. "The Scottish Open is going to Royal Aberdeen this year, for instance. It is a men-only club and there is a ladies club attached to it over the fairway. They co-habit and it's brilliant. But there has been no media attention saying 'this is terrible that the Scottish Open is going to a single gender club'. Hopefully that will translate itself when the Open goes to Troon. It's almost an identical situation.

"We are fortunate in Scotland in a lot of ways. We have been playing golf 100 yards from my office since the early 1400s. There is massive history and tradition in all of that. If we didn't have that we wouldn't be the home of golf, we wouldn't have all these folk coming here to play our courses. We have to capitalise on that, of course, but we shouldn't be held back by it either. We are moving forward."

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