ITS notoriety as a bastion of exclusion mounted as the world's most famous golf club continued to operate a men-only membership policy.

However, now 260 years of discrimination against female golfers has been swept away in one contest at St Andrews as the first woman took part in a match as a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

Lady Bonallack took part in an R&A team as an "ordinary" member and was the first woman to play in the annual friendly match against the Links Trust in the Fife town that is the home of golf and the sport's governing body.

Last September the R&A members voted by an 85 per cent majority to admit women for the first time, taking 15 women into its 2,400 membership in the first instance.

The R&A said a number of women have now been admitted as ordinary members of the club.

This includes Lady Bonallack, who is married to former club secretary Sir Michael Bonallack.

The annual match at St Andrews New Course on Monday ended in a tie.

Lady Bonallack, who is a six-time Curtis Cup player, accepted an invitation to join earlier this year as an ordinary member.

The club, which declined to comment on the friendly match, announced the first women to become honorary members of the R&A in February.

They included Princess Anne, Dame Laura Davies, who is widely regarded as the UK's finest female golfer, former world No 1 Annika Sorenstam and Scottish amateur great Belle Robertson, a farmer's daughter from Kintyre who went on to win the Ladies' British Championship.

Other names from the sport were celebrated in the wave of honorary memberships.

Lally Segard, one of France's greatest golfers, Louise Suggs, an LPGA Tour pioneer, and Renee Powell, the first woman to become a head professional at a golf club in the UK, are also included in the list of honorary members.

One report suggested that attitudes towards female players were partly responsible for the drop in numbers of women golfers after it was found the number decreased by 29 per cent to about 25,000 over the last 10 years.