Curious what role women have played in golf over the years? Wonder no longer. Here, we take a look at the history of women’s golf, notable women’s golf events, and top women in golf. Let’s dive in.

History of Women’s Golf

While golf may seem like a business man’s sport, women have been playing for centuries. The first known woman to play golf was Mary, Queen of Scots, who was playing in the 1550s. The Queen would actually travel to France to play golf, but it was during her reign that the golf course at St. Andrews was built.

Although the Queen was passionate about it, the sport saw few significant advances to welcoming women players until the 1800s. It wasn’t until 1867 that the first ladies’ golf club was formed, the Ladies Club of St. Andrews, Scotland. By the end of the 1800s, more organizations were hosting women’s tournaments, including the first U.S. women’s tournament in New Jersey in 1894 as well as the First U.S. Women’s Amateur championship in 1895.

Golf as a women’s sport grew vastly throughout the 1900s. Notable events in women’s golf include:

  • 1917: Women’s Tournament Committee of the USGA is formed.
  • 1944: The Women’s Professional Golf Association is founded, which the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) later replaced.
  • 1946: The first U.S. Women’s Open occurs.
  • 1961: Two women—Mickey Wright and Barbara Romack—defeat male players Arnold Palmer and Dow Finsterwald in a CBS Sports Spectacular—while playing from the same tees.
  • 1963: The U.S. Women’s Open is the first nationally televised women’s event.
  • 1977: The PGA of America votes to accept female members.
  • 1988: The Golf for Women magazine published its first issue.
  • 1996: Judy Bell serves as the United States Golf Association’s first women president.

Prominent events in women’s golf history are still occurring in the 21st century. Younger women players, for instance, are breaking records and qualifying for tournaments. In 2014, Lucy Li became the youngest female to ever qualify for the Women’s Open at just 11 years old. Today, women are the fastest growing segment of new golfers, with 6 million women golfers in the U.S. alone.