Pine Valley to allow female members by end of the year

PINE VALLEY, N.J. — More than 100 years after Pine Valley Golf Club opened, the private club long considered among the best in the world has decided to allow women to join.

The websites of Golf Digest and Golf magazine, which both have employees who are members of Pine Valley, reported on the club’s vote to allow women.

According to an email obtained by the websites, club president Jim Davis wrote to members on Friday that “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 email said.

Pine Valley, designed by Philadelphia hotelier George Crump, is located about 20 miles southeast of Philadelphia and long has been rated, with a few exceptions, the No. 1 course in America.

Women previously could play only as guests on Sunday afternoon. There was a time when women were not even allowed on the property. In one of the more famous stories, Jack Nicklaus was on his way to Atlantic City while on his honeymoon when he drove by Pine Valley and asked to play.

Nicklaus said he wasn’t aware it was only for men, and his bride, Barbara, had to wait outside the fence while he played.

Unlike Augusta National, another private club, Pine Valley does not host a major tournament every year. It is for members and their guests, except for hosting the Walker Cup in 1936 and 1985.

Davis said in the email that Pine Valley would immediately begin identifying potential candidates to be members, with hopes of having its first women join the club by the end of the year.

“As has been our custom, all prospective candidates 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 our founder George Crump intended,” he said.

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