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  • Olivia Wood

Historic Women in the World of Golf

Updated: May 28

For women’s history month, we’d like to delve into historic women in the world of golf. For hundreds of years, the world of athletics has been largely dominated by men, and women have had little to no representation or recognition in comparison, especially in the sport of golf, which has shown extreme discrimination throughout the years. Women were only able to play long after men were, and the first professional female golfer was decades after the first male professional. 

The First Female Golfer

The world of women’s golf is largely known to have begun with Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scotland from 1542 – 1567. The famous St. Andrews Links golf course was built during her reign, and she was the first woman to ever pick up a club and tee off, being recorded as the first female golfer. 

The First Professional Woman in Golf

The first woman to sign a professional contract was Helen Hicks in 1934, who signed with Wilson-Western Sporting Goods. She won the 1937 Women Western Open, and the 1940 Titleholders Championship, both of which are now featured on the LPGA tour. In the 1950’s, Hicks became one of the women to found the LPGA. 

The First Woman to Challenge Men

After being denied amateur status, Babe Zaharias competed in the 1938 Los Angeles Open, a PGA event, going down in history as the first woman to attempt playing in a men’s tournament. Despite being cut after the first 2 rounds, Zaharias remains a legend in the world of women’s golf, accomplishing something no woman would do for another 65 years. She made a bold move at the time in such a male dominated sport, and was applauded by many women. Zaharias went on to compete in three other PGA events, and in 1947, won the British Ladies Amateur, one of 82 wins in her amateur and professional career. As one of America’s first female golf sensations, she also helped to found the LPGA, alongside Hicks. 

The Best Female Golfer of All Time

With 72 wins on the LPGA tour, 10 of which were majors and 24 of which were international tournaments, Sweden’s Annika Sörenstam goes down in history as arguably, the best female golfer of all time. In 2003, Sörenstam achieved a career grand slam, and in 2001, became the first female to ever shoot 59 in competition, at the Standard Register Ping in Phoenix. She is recognized as a stand out star in not only women’s golf but in the sport as a whole, and is an inspiration to many players around the world. 

Works Cited

"THE HISTORY OF WOMEN'S GOLF." Daily Sports, Accessed 21 Mar. 2024.

"The History of Women's Golf." The Experience St. Andrews, Accessed 21 Mar. 2024.

"HISTORY OF WOMEN'S PROFESSIONAL GOLF." Professional Golfers Career College, Accessed 21 Mar. 2024.

"THE HISTORY OF WOMEN IN GOLF." BatCaddy, Accessed 21 Mar. 2024.

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