Peter Dawson, the secretary of the R&A said in a statement that the club's 2,400 male members voted "overwhelmingly" in favor of admitting female golfers. "More than three quarters of the club’s global membership took part in the ballot, with a decisive 85% voting for women to become members," he said.
The vote will go into effect immediately, and the club will fast-track "a significant initial number" of new female members, Dawson said. According to Time, some of the first anticipated women members will be USGA president Judy Bell and St. Andrews University principal Louise Richardson.
Previously, women were not even allowed to attend dinners or events at the club, barring them from important meetings.
The decision comes as Scotland prepares to make a historic vote on a larger scale, with polls open on the country's independence referendum.
The PGA of America released a statement on the R&A ruling Thursday, USA Today reported.
Women have played and will continue to play an integral role in the game of golf. In fact, women represent the biggest growth market in the sport, and every step to make golf more inclusive is good for the game. The PGA of America is thrilled that the R&A is welcoming women into its organization, and loudly applauds its decision.
Three male-only golf clubs remain on the British Open schedule, including Muirfield, Royal St. George's and Royal Troon.