A men’s-only enclave since its founding in 1913, a change was announced on April 30th that the club with the golf course perennially ranked as the best in the U.S. would “move toward inclusion” and “remove all gender-specific language from our bylaws.” Where women were previously only allowed on the course as guests and on Sunday afternoons, “The club’s policies will now allow all guests to enjoy our club without restrictions and we [expect to have] our first women members by the end of ,” said President Jim Davis. Of the 3,670 private golf clubs in the U.S., fewer than a dozen now remain men’s-only.
The Pine Valley (N.J.) Golf Club, home to the golf course perennially ranked as the best in the U.S. and among the world’s best, and a men’s-only private enclave since its founding in 1913, has voted to allow female members and unrestricted women’s play for the first time in its 108-year history, Yahoo!Sports reported.
Pine Valley President Jim Davis wrote in an e-mail to members on April 30th that was obtained by Golf Digest about the unanimous move by the club’s trustees and members to bring in female members and allow them to play at any time, Yahoo!Sports reported. Previously, women were only allowed on the course as guests and on Sunday afternoons, and there was a time when they weren’t even allowed on the property.
“This evening at our annual meeting of the members, we made a historic change to Pine Valley’s bylaws,” Davis wrote. “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.
“The club’s policies will now allow all guests to enjoy our club without restrictions and we will begin immediately identifying women candidates for membership, with the expectation of having our first women members in the club by the end of ,” Davis added.
All prospective members of Pine Valley must “be socially compatible, share a deep passion for the game of golf, and be able to play the golf course with the skill level that our founder George Crump intended,” Davis’ e-mail said. (Crump teamed with Harry Colt to design the club’s course, with additional input from A.W. Tillinghast, Hugh Wilson, George C. Thomas Jr., and Walter Travis.)
“I am convinced this change puts us on the right side of history,” Davis concluded.
Pine Valley follows several notable men-only private clubs in recently changing its rules to allow women, Yahoo!Sports reported.
Augusta National, home course for the Masters, welcomed its first women members in 2012. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland allowed women members in 2014, and Muirfield in Scotland began accepting women members in 2017.
While Pine Valley does not host high-profile tournaments of the kind that invited the public scrutiny that had surrounded Muirfield and Augusta National in recent years and prompted the change in those clubs’ policies, it does host the annual Crump Cup mid-amateur event and is a former Walker Cup site.
Of the 3,670 private golf clubs in the U.S. today, Yahoo!Sports reported, fewer than a dozen now remain men’s-only.
Located in the tiny town of the same name 20 miles south of Philadelphia that has just one public road and 23 houses that are owned by club members on land leased from the club (which also delivers the mail), Pine Valley GC has a secret list of 1,000 members, Yahoo!Sports reported, that includes notable names such as George H.W. Bush, Sean Connery, Jack Nicklaus and National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell.