Grateful American® Foundation

When was the first documented women’s golf tournament held?

January 9th

51f4cee859cf385453504f3b7ff75ca1January 9, 1811 — The first documented women’s golf tournament is held today in Scotland, at Musselburgh Golf Club in Scotland.

But the tradition of women playing golf dates back to 1567 — thanks to Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87). An avid golfer, she is said to have coined the term “caddie” by calling her assistants “cadets.” The Queen traveled to France to play — an act she was criticized for, as golf took her away from her Royal duties. Nonetheless, during her reign the famous golf course at St. Andrews was constructed.

Although it took a few centuries for more women to get in on the fun, today women gathered again tee off for today’s 18-hole tournament at Musselburgh, which is considered the oldest surviving course in the world by Guinness World Records. In fact, the Open Championship were held there six times between 1874 and 1889, and the course is still in use today.

Evidence of early golf in what is now the United States includes a 1739 record for a shipment of golf equipment to a William Wallace in Charleston, South Carolina. An advertisement was published in the Royal Gazette of New York City in 1779 for golf clubs and balls, and the South Carolina Golf Club was established in 1787 in Charleston. However, as in England, it was not until the late 19th century that golf started to become firmly established.

As for the prizes at the 1811 tournament, the winner received a fishing basket; second- and third-place finishers received silk handkerchiefs from Barcelona. In 2015, the LPGA warded a $1 million bonus to its winner. Talk about progress!

Words of Wisdom

I found that the only way of playing at the Golve is to stand as you do at fenceing with the small sword bending your legs a little and holding the muscles of your legs and back and armes exceeding bent or fixt or stiffe and not at all slackning them in the time you are bringing down the stroak (which you readily doe).


— The earliest known instructions for playing golf have been found in the diary of Thomas Kincaid, a medical student who played on the course at Bruntsfield Links, near Edinburgh University, and at Leith Links. His notes include his views on an early handicap system. In his entry for 20 January 1687 he noted how "After dinner I went out to the Golve", and described his Golf stroke.

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