Like most people you probably think that women only started playing golf very recently as that is what the media portrays. Actually this is not the case at all. In fact women have been officially recorded as playing golf as early as 1738 at Bruntsfield Links golf course in Scotland. The game of golf was invented in Scotland in the 15th century, and was being played from as early as the 1500s in Scotland.
The first golf association for ladies was called the LGU (Ladies Gold Union). This was formed in 1884 at St. Andrews, and by the late 1800s there were as many as 63 ladies golf associations or clubs in Great Britain. The first ladies championship golf game was played at Musselburgh on a 12 hole course.
Golf was a very popular past time among women in Great Britain and remains so today. Women in the olden days still wore dresses and long skirts when they played golf which must have been very difficult and cumbersome. Aside from hampering their golf swing they also had the problem of the bottom of their dresses becoming muddy. It wasn’t until about the 1920s that women were seen wearing trousers instead of dresses or skirts, when playing golf.
Today the American men’s golf association is known as the PGA, Professional Golf Association, while the American women’s golf association is known as the LPGA, Ladies Professional Golf Association. The LPGA was founded in 1950 by 13 women players.
There were still many gender barriers that women faced even up until a few years ago. For instance women were finally allowed to join the Augusta National only in 2012. The Augusta National finally hosted the Women’s US open competition in 2014 at the same time as they hosted the Men’s US open competition. This was the first time this had been done.
Women have made a great contribution to the game of golf. For example Issette Miller invented what was the first golf handicap. The handicap system developed by women golfers was later adopted by men golfing associations. Further impressive contributions are those of Babe Didrickson-Zaharias who was one of the founders of the LPGA. She was such an accomplished player that she qualified for the men’s golf tournament. Golf rapidly spread around the world with players competing in competitions from many different countries. In fact the first woman golfer to earn $1 million is Karrie Webb who is from Australia.
Michelle Wie at the tender age of only 12 years old qualified to play in the LPGA. She also became the youngest person to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links.
The first woman to make golf clubs was Mrs. Isobel Denholm who became involved in, and eventually took over her husband’s business of making golf clubs in the 1800s. This was also at Bruntsfield in the UK.
Today there are an estimated 5 million women who play golf. It is definitely not a sport that is just for the men. Women are increasingly taking up the sport.