The likes of women's world No 1 Annika Sorenstam and teenage sensation Michelle Wie are now eligible to play at next year's Open championship at Hoylake near Liverpool - providing they can qualify.
For the 135th staging of golf's oldest major, the allmale Royal and Ancient Golf Club have agreed to lift their total ban on females.
After discussions which began early last year, it has been decided that any player finishing in the top five at each of the women's four majors can enter the Open at the first of two qualifying stages.
Coincidentally, the announcement came on the same day that 16-year-old Wie began her professional career.
Wie and Sorenstam are already able to file entries if they choose because the 2006 Weetabix Women's British Open takes place after the Open, so the top five from this summer's event, at Royal Birkdale in July, can take part in the 18-hole regional qualifying.
Korean Jeong Jang won the title, with Sophie Gustafsson second, Wie and Young Kim joint third and Sorenstam, Christie Kerr and Liselotte Neumann joint fifth.
How many fill in the entry form remains to be seen but if they do, then come through regional qualifying, there would be a further 36 holes of final qualifying to negotiate before they line up at Hoylake.
Previously, the event was restricted to "any male professional golfer" or "male amateur golfer whose playing handicap does not exceed scratch".
In addition to the top five in the majors - the other three are the Kraft Nabisco Championship, McDonalds LPGA Championship and the US Women's Open - any women meeting the requirements for international qualifying, final qualifying and the Open itself can enter at these stages directly.
It is a move welcomed by Sports Minister Richard Caborn, who said: "I really do welcome this. I think it's an important step forward for women's sport. The Open really is now truly open."
Ryder Cup star Darren Clarke was also keen, saying: "If they qualify, good luck to them. If they're good enough, they deserve their chance like everybody else."
But Scot Paul Lawrie, winner of the 1999 Open tournament, wondered: "Are we into the regional qualifying for the US Women's Open now?" Not that he is interested in entering even if he could, he added.