The history of women's golf closely follows the history of women's emancipation in western society. Although early golf got a strong push by a woman in the 1500's, it wasn't until the 19th century that women were able to pursue golf as a hobby and it wasn't until the 20th century that women played the sport professionally.
The Rise Of Women's Golf
In the 1550s, Mary Queen of Scots commissioned the building of the golf course at St. Andrews. An avid fan of the game, she is also credited with coining the term "caddies". In France, where she grew up, military cadets carried clubs and assisted on the course. Historians believe Mary brought this tradition with her to Scotland where it was embraced by local golfers.
Following Mary's reign, women's golf entered a fallow period. There are very few records of women in golf for hundreds of years until the 1800s.
The History Women's Golf
The first known women's golf tournament was held in 1811, at the Musselburgh Golf Club in Scotland.
In 1867, St. Andrews again becomes a haven for women golfers, creating The Ladies Club-the first women's golf organization.
In the late 1800s, Issette Pearson Miller assisted in the creation of one of the first golf handicapping systems in London, England.
In 1894, the first women's tournament is held in the US, hosted by the Morris County Golf Club in Morristown New Jersey. The course had only seven holes.
The United States Golf Association, founded in 1894, held the first US women's amateur championship in 1895.
The Modern Era
Although women's golf gained in momentum in the early part of the 20th century-most notably, Babe Didrickson-Zaharias' popularity in the 1930s-it wasn't until after World War II that women's golf really took off.
In 1950, the Ladies Professional Golf Association was formed. Babe Didrickson-Zaharias, Patty Berg and Louise Suggs were some of the most popular golfers in the early years of the LPGA.
In 1978, Nancy Lopez captured women's attention, becoming the first female golfer to earn both rookie of the year and player of the year honors in the same season.
In 1996, Karrie Webb became the first LPGA golfer to earn one million dollars in a single season.
Ironically, the club at St. Andrews came full circle in 2007, hosting its first women's professional tournament, the Women's British Open.
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