Female members have been formally invited to join the world’s oldest golf club at Muirfield for the first time.

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which runs the links course in East Lothian, voted to change its controversial membership policy barring women two years ago. After receiving applications and assessing them through its traditional lengthy procedure, 12 women have been invited to take up membership at the 275-year-old club from 1 July.

Alistair Campbell, the captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, said: “This marks a milestone in the club’s illustrious history, and we look forward to welcoming all of our new members to share in the great values and traditions of our club.”

The men-only policy at Muirfield attracted considerable negative publicity the last time the course hosted the Open Championship in 2013.

Calls for change, however, were initially rejected after a vote in 2016 and, consequently, Muirfield was suspended from the Open rota by the R&A, which organises the tournament. The course was reinstated after another vote was taken in 2017 when 80.2% of members backed a change in policy.