SO the honourable golfers of Muirfield, it seems, wish to become living fossils. Or at least, the 36% of them who have voted not to overturn 272 years of tradition and allow women to become members, do. They want to create an impermeable wall of stone between themselves and that bit of the outside world that is women, as well as, no doubt, many other societal elements which make them uncomfortable.

The 33 members who opposed letting women join want to keep their “traditions”. And they have been successful in preventing the majority necessary for change. Well, those honourable ones are welcome to their fort. Because, frankly, many of us don’t want to invade their bubble. They are, in my view, welcome to their own journey into irrelevance – one that started last week when it was announced the club had been dropped as host of the Open because of this failure to change. It’s just a pity they have to take a beautiful links course along with them.

Though I’m not a golfer myself, I’m convinced if I were one I would have no desire whatsoever to be a member of Muirfield. I know this because I am aware that there are other clubs, debating clubs, verse clubs, posh members' clubs, in Edinburgh which from time to time I hear are considering inviting women. They are the last clubs I would want to join.

This is not a case of Woody Allen syndrome, the notion that "I'd never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member”. It’s an awareness that, for the most part, these clubs are considering women because they know they are dying, losing their sway – that they are relics of a past system whose fate, without the injection of womanhood, will be to dwindle to fewer and fewer doddery old members.

Golf courses such as Muirfield and Royal Troon (which is currently consulting members over opening up to women), are among the last refuges of this type of institution. The 33-signature letter from objecting members even describes Muirfield’s “special nature” as “a gentleman’s club where golf is played”, as if the golf were incidental. It then goes on to celebrate its “fraternity built inter alia on foursomes play with a round taking only the same time as lunch and leaving enough time for a further round after lunch (even in mid winter)”. Most of this sounds like dog-ate-my-homework excuse-making gobbledegook, as if the writers had composed it in a pompous bid to befuddle matron, or the schoolmaster.

But the giveaway phrase is that “inter alia”. "Alia", after all, represents the unmentionable, the thing the gentleman does not say and perhaps can’t even bring himself to say: it refers to the bubble that the Muirfield clubhouse is designed to create, the infantilising world of their schooldays, which for many of these old fogies was, save for the dinner ladies and nurses, opposite-sex free.

A friend who has played at Muirfield described the club to me as “an extension of the public school system”. Go into the clubhouse and it’s possible to see the men queuing up with their plates to be served their roast beef and Yorkshire pud by the dinner ladies. They are back in the institutional bosom, and don’t want that fantasy pricked by the arrival of some woman who is there for any reason other than to serve.

But the world has changed. The vast majority of private schools are now co-educational. Three women headed up the three major parties in this last Scottish election. One of them, Nicola Sturgeon, last week described the Muirfield decision as “indefensible”. Even at Muirfield itself, since 2011, women, though unable to become members, have been able to dine and play a round of golf – much I’m sure to the chagrin of the “no-women” voters. They don’t like this kind of change. Indeed, their letter argued: “The risks for the club are that a major change will fundamentally change our way of doing things and once that process develops it will be impossible to stop.”

But that major change has already started. It started over a century ago, with women’s suffrage, and is indeed unstoppable. In this context, Muirfield seems, very nearly, an irrelevance, only worth fighting for symbolic reasons, not because battering down its doors will make a real difference to women’s lives. It is like the Cecil Rhodes statue that Oxford University students have campaigned to have removed, meaningful as a battle, yet perhaps not likely to result in tangible change in the lives of those discriminated against. Might we not be better off battling contemporary racism? And would we not be better directing our energies towards tackling the sexism that goes on in boardrooms and seemingly-open-to-women yet male-dominated clubs and societies, than a bunch of old patriarchs who don’t want smelly and noisy women invading their clubhouse or disrupting their “speedy” plays?

A judgement has been made. The Open will no longer be held at Muirfield. Now, let's leave them to fossilise into obscurity.