Pressure has been building in recent years on the R&A to change its men-only policy, especially after Augusta National Golf Club announced in August 2012 that it was inviting two women to join former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore.
The British Open last year was held at Muirfield, one of three links courses on the Open rotation that does not allow female members.
"This is welcome news from the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and I urge its members to follow their committees' recommendations and vote 'yes' for women members," British sports minister Helen Grant said in a statement. "It would mark a step in the right direction for the sport and I would hope encourage the remaining golf clubs that still have anachronistic single-sex member policies to follow suit."
The next Open at a men-only club is in 2016 at Royal Troon.
The R&A governs golf everywhere in the world except for the United States and Mexico. It also organizes the British Open and other championships. But it shifted responsibility for the Open and administering the Rules of Golf to a separate entity in 2004 known as The R&A.