‘The right side of history’: Pine Valley to allow women members, loosen playing restrictions

Pine Valley in New Jersey leads our Top 100 Courses in the World list.

Big changes are afoot at Pine Valley.

Jon Cavalier/@LinksGems

Measured by prestige and architectural merit, no one would deny Pine Valley’s greatness.

But there’s always been one thing about the No. 1-ranked golf course in the world: It has never allowed women as members. 

That’s about to change.

On Friday evening, at an annual meeting of Pine Valley trustees and members, the club voted to remove all gender-specific language from its bylaws.

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As part of the decision, women, who were also previously limited to playing the course on Sunday afternoons, will now be able to use the club without restrictions.

Word of the decision, has learned, went out to the Pine Valley membership by way of an email Friday from club president Jim Davis, who opened his message by saying that the club had made an “historic change.”

“The future of golf must move toward inclusion,” the email continued, “and I am pleased to report that the Trustees and members of the Pine Valley Golf Club voted unanimously and with enthusiasm to remove all gender-specific language from our bylaws.”

Davis said that the club “will begin immediately identifying women candidates for membership” and expected to have its first female members by the end of the year.

I am convinced this change puts us on the right side of history. Pine Valley president Jim Davis

In keeping with club custom, Davis said, prospective members would have to be deemed socially compatible, deeply passionate about golf and skilled enough to play the course “with the skill level our founder George Crump intended.”

Crump was a Philadelphia hotelier, and Pine Valley was his first and only design. The course opened in 1914 as an 11-hole layout and was completed in 1922, after Crump’s death. 

Pine Valley has been a fixture atop GOLF’s Top 100 World rankings for decades, as it has on many other respected lists.

Now, it can be commended for moving into the 21st century with its policies, a point that Davis also underscored in his email to members.

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“On a personal note, I have been thinking about this for a long time and, frankly, it’s overdue,” wrote Davis, who went on to recount a conversation he’d once had with a fellow member while on the course. As they were walking up the 15th hole, that member had said to Davis, “Remember, we don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.”

Davis closed by saying that the club would not be “changing the things we love most about Pine Valley.”

“We are simply continuing down the path of making our Club more inclusive,” he wrote. “We want to be proud of Pine Valley in all respects, and I am convinced this change puts us on the right side of history.”

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