From feminist pioneers to placing professionals, the historic journey of the St. Andrews Ladies Putting Club


Who would you again to sink a putt to save lots of your life? Tiger Woods? Jack Nicklaus? Ben Crenshaw?

There’s a plethora of debatable choices, however it’s unlikely many would look to a gaggle of girls in Fife, Scotland, with no skilled {golfing} expertise, lots of whom are way more mature than the typical Tour participant.

But maybe they need to, as a result of anybody placing their life within the fingers of the St. Andrews Ladies Putting Club could be entrusting it to a corporation with over 150 years of quick sport expertise.

Established in 1867, the group is the oldest women golf membership on this planet, a title owed to some perseverant, golf-loving ladies – and a few disgruntled males.

When the daughters of members of the St. Andrews Royal & Historical (R&A) Club – extensively considered the historic house of the sport – determined they wished to play golf, it was not a standard exercise for girls. Croquet and archery have been the normal selections among the many restricted choices obtainable.

When the ladies ventured onto the caddy’s placing course, which was utilized by these manning the members’ golf baggage between rounds, the caddies wished them gone virtually instantly.

“They didn’t like it at all, and I don’t think the members liked it very much either,” membership archivist Eve Soulsby informed CNN’s The Jazzy Golfer.

However the caddies had an issue: As workers of the membership, they couldn’t complain to the members. A compromise rapidly emerged – to offer the ladies a chunk of land subsequent to the long-lasting Swilcan Bridge that they might use as a nine-hole placing course.

It was a tough space, full of rabbit holes, divots and sand, however it was a begin. One month later, 22 ladies competed on the St. Andrews Ladies Golf Club’s inaugural event.

The phrase rapidly unfold. By the late Eighties, the membership had grown to 600, together with male affiliate members. In the present day, there may be an ever-growing ready checklist to hitch the 140-strong membership, a quantity saved low to make sure tournaments run easily.

Quickly after, Outdated Tom Morris, the course’s resident participant, and greenkeeper, also known as the “founding father of golf,” determined it might be a good suggestion for the women to go to the close by Himalaya part of the course, so named due to its hilly topography.

Morris ready the world for the membership earlier than retiring in 1895, when he was made an honorary member.

Soulsby believes the membership’s early members performed a pivotal function in gaining extra independence for the ladies of St. Andrews in the direction of the flip of the century, citing the creation of the ladies’s course, which – alongside the Himalaya’s placing course – stays playable to today.

Earnings raised from guests to the placing course is donated to native charities, with an exception made final yr to offer funds to Ukrainian organizations.

Formally named The Jubilee Course and opened in 1897, the truth that the ladies’s designated 18 holes was coined “The Duffers Course” mirrored generally held attitudes in the direction of ladies throughout the interval. “We pretend that didn’t happen,” Soulsby added.

Amongst these carrying the torch for these early pioneers at the moment is Sylvia Dunne, the membership’s present president.

A member since 2011, Dunne helps manage the group’s weekly tournaments; a showpiece two-round occasion on Wednesday afternoons and a one-round competitors on Thursday morning for the so-called “oldies” who could battle to handle a number of rounds.

“It’s the camaraderie and everything too, because if you get older and you can’t play golf, you could be just stuck at home doing nothing all day, and this is really a very social club,” she stated.

“The best part is the afterwards because they have coffee and biscuits and a blither.”

Members of the St Andrews Ladies Putting Club before a match against members of the St Andrews Links in 2018.

Members who gained tournaments within the early twentieth century could have been fortunate sufficient to take house a royal prize. The membership’s first regal donation got here from Prince Leopold, youngest son of Queen Victoria, and different trophies later adopted from Edward VIII and King George VI.

At one time, R&A captains additionally donated trophies, however now they face off towards the Ladies Putting Club in an annual 18 vs 18 placing competitors.

Dunne is likely one of the most prolific putters on the membership, sweeping six trophies in a single season throughout her greatest yr. Nonetheless, she admits the placing inexperienced is usually a merciless mistress, even for her.

“One day recently I was so exasperated,” she stated. “We’ve a prize on the finish of the season for essentially the most holes in a single – so I steered, isn’t it time we had a prize for essentially the most close to misses?

“There is a lot of skill involved, but there’s also a lot of luck. Some days the ball rolls for you and other days it will not drop in the hole.”

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