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.
Getty Images

Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.


Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''

Getty Images

Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.


Full-field scores from the American Century Championship


''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

Getty Images

Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.


Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players


The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

Getty Images

Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

The week was more than nostalgic. 

It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.


Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.