Pine Valley Golf Club in southern New Jersey recently voted to allow female members unlimited access for the first time – making the No. 1-ranked golf course in the country now open to women players, the Washington Examiner reported.
Members of Pine Valley, an exclusive men's club, voted unanimously to remove gender specific language from its bylaws, which now provides women with unrestricted play at the golf course.
Currently, women are only allowed to play the course Sunday afternoons.
"The future of golf must move toward inclusion, and I am pleased to report that the Trustees and members of the Pine Valley Golf Club have voted unanimously and with enthusiasm to remove all gender-specific language from our bylaws," club president Jim Davis said in an April 30 emailed letter obtained by golf magazine Golf Digest.
Sports Illustrated explained the legality of private membership golf clubs being able to discriminate, for example, Burning Tree Club in Maryland, Butler National Golf Club in Illinois, and New York's Garden City Golf Club all denied memberships to women based on their sex as recently as of 2019. As the story makes clear, that practice is certainly legal, Insidehook reported, but that does not make it right.
"On a personal note, I have been thinking about this for a long time and, frankly, it's overdue," Davis emailed members about the club opening to women. "Several years ago, I was playing golf in our Spring Members' weekend with our late fellow member and friend Jack Vardaman. During the round, we discussed this very topic and as we were walking through the woods to our tee shots on the 15th hole, Jack said something to me that I have never forgotten. He said, 'Remember, we don't want to be on the wrong side of history.' We are not changing the things we love most about Pine Valley. We are simply continuing down the path of making our Club more inclusive. We want to be proud of Pine Valley in all respects, and I'm convinced this change puts us on the right side of history."
Davis added the club will start recruiting women to become members and expects to have its first female recruits by the end of the year, the Examiner reported.
The move by Pine Valley follows other changes made by other men's-only golf clubs in the past decade, including The Masters host Augusta National, which accepted women into its club for the first time in 2012.
Currently, of the 3,670 private golf clubs in the United States, less than a dozen remain men-only.
The club, about 20 miles from Philadelphia, has a secret list of 1,000 members and is believed to have included notable actors and former presidents.
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