The long-awaited completion of the merger between the R&A and the Ladies Golf Union (LGU) has been finalised and will come into force on January 1.
It means that the governing bodies of the men’s and women’s games outside the USA and Mexico, both based at St Andrews, will join forces. The LGU’s business operation and staff has been integrated into the R&A’s group of companies, while LGU board members will now join relevant committees of the R&A which effectively run the game of golf throughout the world.
The merger was first announced last spring and formalises the close links between organisations over a number of years.
The R&A – the business company by formed the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews to run the governance and tournament management side of their responsibilities – will now also assume responsibility for staging the LGU’s championships and international matches, although the women’s flagship event, the RICOH Women’s British Open, will continue to be run by promoters IMG under their long-time agreement with the LGU.
The R&A has already financially and logistically supported LGU events over a number of years.
Trish Wilson, Chair of the LGU, said, “The completion of the merger is a progressive and important step for the development of women’s golf.
“Bringing the two organisations together creates a platform that will allow us to develop our aspirations for women’s golf on a global stage and encourage more girls and women to play golf and become members of clubs.
“The success of the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the Curtis Cup demonstrates the growing strength of women’s golf in both the professional and amateur game and we look forward to building on this with The R&A.”
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “The integration of the two organisations puts us in a better, stronger position to realise our collective vision for growing the game of golf around the world.
“Our combined resources and staff expertise will help us to achieve our shared aims for the development of golf, including increasing girls’ and women’s participation and encouraging more families to enjoy golf as a recreational activity.
“Both organisations have an excellent track record of successfully staging prestigious championships and international matches and we are looking forward to a great season of events next year.”
The merger of the governing bodies follows a trend in the game to have one voice for both sexes and sweep away the traditional single-sex institutions in golf.
The Scottish men’s and women’s amateur bodies merged in 2015 and the Royal and Ancient itself admitted women members for the first time the previous year.
Open venue Royal Troon voted to admit women members this year and although the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield failed to reach their required majority when members voted on the issue in the spring, a second vote is proposed in 2017.