Winning in Style: Ladies’ Golf

Alongside our own collection, the Museum houses that of the Women Golfers’ Museum, presenting a comprehensive history of the ladies’ game.

The world’s oldest ladies’ golf club formed at St Andrews in 1867 following the creation of a 15-hole putting course especially for lady golfers.  The course soon extended to 18 holes and 20 years later the club boasted 500 members.

Women’s golf continued to flourish during the 19th century and in April 1893 the Ladies’ Golf Union was formed.  A month later the first national championship was played on the links of Lytham & St Annes Ladies’ Golf Club.  It was won by 18 year old Lady Margaret Scott. 

Portrush members Rhona Adair and May Hezlet dominated amateur golf in the early 20th century, followed by Cecil Leitch and Joyce Wethered.  In 1933, Temple Newsam professional Poppy Wingate became the first woman to compete in a men’s professional competition.

The collections reflect the truly international scope of women’s golf today.  Champions celebrated include Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, the youngest winner of five Majors, male or female.  Laura Davies, one of England’s greatest golfers, has played in every Solheim Cup since the first in 1990.  Australian Karrie Webb is the sole holder of a Super Career Grand Slam, while Annika Sörenstam of Sweden dominated women’s golf for over a decade.

The Ricoh Women’s British Open Trophy was first presented in 2007, to Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa.  As the first women’s professional championship held over the Old Course, St Andrews, the Major embodies the modern ladies’ game.

Our latest exhibition, Shining Examples: 150 Years of the Ladies' Putting Club explores the history of the oldest women's club in the world.  The beautifully presented exhibition will be on display until March 2018.

(1) Balls used by Rhona Adair (courtesy of the Women Golfer’s Museum) (2) Ricoh Women’s British Open trophy (Courtesy of the LGU) (3) Poppy Wingate’s shoes

Did you know?

During and just after World War II, golf ball supplies reached crisis point, due to a shortage of rubber. In 1942 the Government forbid the remoulding of old balls. Following R&A intervention, the ban was lifted. One of the arguments used was that the Army Medical Council encouraged golf as a remedial exercise for wounded personnel.