Just over a year after voting to allow women members, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews has extended membership invitations to two of the world’s most accomplished female amateur golfers.
Marlene Streit of Canada and Judy Bell of the United States have accepted invitations to join the club and will join Dame Laura Davies, Annika Sorenstam, Louise Suggs and a few other women as the first female members of the organization.
A World Golf Hall of Fame inductee, Streit is the only player to win women’s amateur titles in the U.S., England, Australia and Canada. She also won the Canadian Ladies Open Amateur 11 times and was voted Canada’s top athlete of the year in 1951 and 1956.
Another World Golf Hall of Fame member, Bell competed on two Curtis Cup teams for the U.S. and captained the team twice. The Wichita, Kan., native finished runner-up to Mickey Wright in the 1952 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship and would go on to win three Broadmoor Invitationals, three Florida East Coast Championships in addition to a slew of other amateur titles. She was named the first female president of the USGA in 1996. (Diana Murphy has just been named the USGA's second female president.)
"The Royal & Ancient Golf Club enjoys such a special place at the heart of golf and I am thrilled to be part of it," Bell said. "Golf has been very good to me over the years and this is a wonderful distinction to receive."
Streit shared similar sentiments, saying: "I would never have dreamt of this all those years ago when I started out playing golf but I have enjoyed every moment of it. I am extremely proud and grateful to receive this honor and it means a great deal not just to me but to Canadian golf as a whole."
The R&A, which touts a worldwide membership of 2,400, voted in September 2014 to admit female members for the first time in the organization's more than 260-year history, and has since added more than 15 women to its membership.