Almost a year to the day after “exploratory discussions” were announced, the Ladies’ Golf Union and R&A have reached agreement on a merger between the two St Andrews-based bodies.
The LGU is the organising body for ladies' amateur golf in Great Britain & Ireland, while a wholly owned subsidiary — LGU Championships Limited — runs the Ricoh Women's British Open and has responsibility for preparing teams for competitions such as the Curtis Cup.
The R&A organises the Open Championship, major amateur events and international matches and, together with the United States Golf Association, governs the game of golf worldwide.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said he was confident that the merger, which is due to be completed in the coming months, would not see the women's game become "submerged" by the men's.
“We feel comfortable that will not happen and we will work together and focus on both sides of the game,” Slumbers said. “The LGU’s knowledge of the women’s game will make the R&A stronger.
“The LGU and the R&A have a wealth of experience in running successful championships and we have a shared focus on supporting the development of golf. The merger will enable us to capitalise on the strengths of the two organisations for the wider benefit of the sport, including the development of golf for women and girls.”
Trish Wilson, the chairman of the LGU, said: "The LGU has a long and proud tradition of supporting women's and girls' golf. Funded by the lady golfers of Great Britain and Ireland, the LGU has positioned golf as a game for all women and girls. My gratitude is due to our shareholders for their foresight and support in this move.
“I would like to thank the chief executive of the R&A and his team, and the foresight of his predecessor, for their initiative and conviction in achieving this outcome. Building on the strong relationship it already enjoys with the R&A, the LGU looks forward to realising the potential of this merger.”
The LGU’s championships and international matches will run as normal this year with the existing LGU team managing those events. The business operations of the LGU will be brought into the R&A group of companies with effect from January 1, 2017.