Women in Golf

By George WhiteMay 15, 2002, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: Saturday, May 18 is Women in Golf Day.
 
Women have played a very large part in the history of golf, even before the last half of the 20th century when they finally achieved equality with men. Records of ladies playing golf exist all the way back to the time of Mary Queen of Scots.
 
Mary, you may recollect, was one of the first known golfers of either sex back in the mid-1500s. Her husband was murdered in 1567 and there was rather strong suspicion that Mary was the culprit. Mary herself was ultimately beheaded because of the incident.
 
The next 200 years are clouded in anonymity. Women certainly played the sport, but because of a strong bias toward male players, woman golfers are not mentioned in any writings.
 
Golfing ladies do not rate another mention until 1792. It is known that the women of Musselburgh were avid golfers - a letter of that date mentions women and the rules and duties of the club. And in 1810, a proposal was made to present gifts to the winning female golfer at the club.
 
St. Andrews appears to have had the first ladies club, formed in 1867. In 1868, Britains Westward Ho and North Devon followed suit. Women, however, were generally confined to courses of their own, many containing some short putting holes and a couple of longer ones requiring a drive of approximately 80 yards. The courses were so much shorter because of the outfits the women were obliged to wear ' the postures and gestures requisite for a full swing are not particularly graceful when the player is clad in female dress, said one contemporary writer.
 
In America around the turn of the century, male-only golf clubs were known as Eveless Edens, wrote Liz Kahn in her book, The LPGA: The Unauthorized Version. In spite of this, womens golf was becoming exceedingly popular. British amateur champion May Hezlet wrote in a book published in 1907, It is now generally acknowledged that golf is a game ' par excellence ' for women. It is essentially a game for women: the exercise is splendid without being unduly violent, as is sometimes the case in hockey or tennis.
 
The USGA held the first American Womens Amateur Championship in 1895 with 13 entries. Only one round was played and the winner was Mrs. Charles S. Brown of Shinnecock Hills, who went round in 132 strokes. This was a nine-hole course that the women played twice. Mrs. Brown took an 11 on the first hole, but recovered to shoot 69 the front nine and 63 the second.
 
The British Ladies Championship was played in 1893 following the formation of the Ladies Golf Union. Thirty-one women competed at the match-play event, won by the great British amateur Lady Margaret Scott.
 
Englishman Harold Hilton commented of Rhona Adair, an exceptional turn-of-the-century womens golfer, that, Miss Adair stands up to the ball in a manner quite worthy of any of the sterner sex. There is a determination and firmness in her address to the ball which is most fascinating to watch. Lady players, as a rule, appear to persuade the ball on its way; Miss Adair, on the contrary, avoids any such constrictions on her methods by hitting it very hard indeed.
 
Such was written by Lewine Mair in her book, 100 Years of Womens Golf.
 
Two English women, Cecil Leitch and Joyce Wethered, dominated the British golfing scene for the next two decades. And after World War I, Wethered voiced the opinion that the changing fashions for golfing women led to a huge improvement in their scores.
 
I just wish that trousers had been in vogue in my day, as skirts were such a problem, said Weathered. They would fall just above the ankle, and you had to be very careful that they were tight enough not to flap, yet loose enough to let you take up your stance. Trousers apart, the only practical garment has to be a short skirt such as the Americans now wear.
 
Weathered was such an accomplished golfer that only about half a dozen men were believed to be her equal.
 
The outstanding American woman of the era was Glenna Collett Vare. Most of her competition came from Alexa Stirling - who played much of her childhood golf with Bobby Jones ' Edith Cummings, Marion Hollins, Maureen Orcutt, Miriam Burns, Virginia Van Wie, Mary K. Browne and Helen Hicks.
 
The first women professionals began to appear in the 1920s and 30s. Helen MacDonald was the first woman to sign with an equipment company, Hillerich & Bradsby, in 1924. The first to promote a manufacturers products and give golf clinics was Helen Hicks, who joined Wilson Sporting Goods in 1934.
 
Only four tournaments were open to American women in the 1930s ' the Hardscrabble Open in Arkansas, the Texas Open, the Western Open in Chicago and the Titleholders in Augusta, Ga. Patty Berg was the first woman to win a check at a golf tournament, the Womans Western Golf Association in 1941 which carried a purse of $100,000.
 
The Womens Professional Golf Association was formed in America in 1944 and existed for six years. Spurred on by Hope Seignious, who paid the bills with her wealthy fathers money, the tour foundered because of a lack of sources for revenue.
 
The U.S. Womens Open began in 1946. And in 1947, Babe Zaharias became a professional. She had been an outstanding amateur, as well as a great Olympic track athlete. She was the impetus behind the inauguration of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, formed upon the demise of the WPGA in 1950.
 
Fred Corcoran ran the organization for the women with Berg the first president. The rest of the founders were Zaharias, Hicks, Betty Jameson, Helen Dettwiler, Betty Mims White, Alice Bauer, Bettye Danoff, Marlene Bauer Hagge, Opal Hill, Sally Sessions, Marilynn Smith and Peggy Kirk Bell.
 
The LPGA played 14 events its first season, and by 1952 had risen to 21 events. Mickey Wright, perhaps the greatest player, joined the tour in 1955 and helped gain much-needed publicity for the tour. Kathy Whitworth, another great, joined in 1958 and eventually rang up 88 tournament titles.
 
JoAnne Carner was a rookie in 1970, Nancy Lopez followed in 1978. Lopez won five consecutive tournaments and nine titles in all that year. The following season she won eight times.
 
The LPGA today is a prosperous organization of 34 tournaments with approximately $40 million in purses ' an average of $1.19 million per outing.
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Rahm (62) takes early lead at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."