The History of Women in Golf
The history of women in golf dates back to the 16th Century. Back then, the general perception was that the game
of golf was a preserve for men.
On the contrary, women’s contribution to the game evolution has been immense, and currently, women compete
almost at the same level as men.
Over the years, women have proved their worth to participate in the game of golf.
The beginnings and rise
The history of women’s golf almost coincides with the time that women in western society became emancipated. A
woman first strongly participated in golf in the 1500s, but it was in the 19th century that women started to play
the game as a hobby, and it was during the 20th century that women played professional golf.
One of the most avid women golf fans was Mary Queen of Scots. She commissioned the construction of St. Andrews
golf course, and the term ‘caddy’ is credited to her. She grew up in France where military cadets carried clubs and
provided assistance on the golf course. It is believed that Mary imported this tradition to Scotland where it was
taken up by local golfers.
Women’s golf was largely inactive during Mary’s reign and very few records exist, which detail women’s
participation in golf, until the 1800s.
In 1811, the first known golf tournament for women took place at Musselburg Golf club in Scotland. In 1867, the
first women’s golf organization - Ladies Club - was formed at St Andrews, which subsequently became a retreat for
In the US, the first women’s golf tournament was held at Morris County Golf club in Morristown, New Jersey in
1894. There were only seven holes at the course.
Battle of the sexes
Battle of the sexes matches were very popular in the early 1900s, and in 1908, a battle of the sexes match would
end in women’s favour when 12 year old Alexa Stirling won 6-year old Bobby Jones.
However, Stirling would later be defeated by Jones and she would admit defeat. In the years that followed,
Stirling went ahead and won women’s amateur championships in the US - in 1916, 1919 and 1920. She also starred in a
number of wartime exhibition games with renowned golf celebrities, including Bobby Jones, to fundraise for the Red
Although women’s golf became more vibrant in the early years of the 20th century, it wasn’t until the end of
World War II that it really gained momentum and took off.
The Ladies Golf Association was formed in 1950, and some notable golfers in its early years included Patty Berg,
Babe Didrikson-Zaharias, and Louise Saggs. Nancy Lopez made news and got women’s attention when, in 1978, she
became the first woman to win two honors in the same season – player of the year and rookie of the year. Then in
terms of record earnings by women, Karrie Webb was the first woman LPGA player to earn a million dollars in one
Golf has generally blossomed since then, through various gender and racial barriers. There are PGA tours in many
cities, plus USGA First Tee programs that enable kids from minority groups, as well as low-income families to have
an opportunity to play golf.
For a detailed look on women's golf lessons, visit the website