Principal excluded from list of first 15 female R&A members.

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The Royal and Ancient golf club, next to the 18th hole. Photo credit Anders Jacobson
The Royal and Ancient golf club, next to the 18th hole. Photo credit Anders Jacobson
The Royal and Ancient golf club, next to the 18th hole. Photo credit Anders Jacobson

The frosty relationship between the Royal and Ancient golf club (R&A) and its most vocal critic, Professor Louise Richardson, showed no sign of thawing last week after the club excluded the principal from its first female members in its 260-year existence.

The slight comes five months after the club broke with tradition and voted to admit female members, a decision that followed a New York Times interview in which the principal lashed out at the R&A’s previous all-male policy.

Honorary membership was bestowed on the Princess Royal and half a dozen top female players but there was no place for Professor Richardson. Tradition dictates that University principals are given the honour.

A spokesperson told The Saint: “The University is pleased that women are now able to become members of the club. We wish the R&A every success and look forward to the resumption of the tradition by which previous principals of St Andrews were invited to become honorary members.”

St Andrews’ last two principals, Brian Lang and Struther Arnott, were both given the honour.

A spokesperson for the R&A declined to comment on the principal’s omission.

Speaking to The New York Times last year, Professor Richardson said: “Here’s St Andrews University, ranked third in the UK, we’re an organisation of 10,000 people, we support 9,000 jobs, I run this place very successfully, and I’m not allowed in the clubhouse 600 yards from my house?”

The Princess Royal’s inclusion will raise eyebrows given the derogatory comments she made about the sport in the past. “Golf seems to me to be an arduous way to go for a walk. I prefer to take the dogs out,” she was quoted as saying.

Eight more “ordinary” female members will be invited to join over the next two and a half years after the committee was given permission by the membership to fast-track 15 female members.

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