- The Womens Amateur
The Womens Amateur
“In 1893, Miss Issette Pearson, who would have been a pioneer and outstanding leader in any field to which she turned her hand,” wrote Enid Wilson in A History of Golf in Britain, “with the aid of Mr Laidlaw Purves and other members of the Wimbledon Club, was instrumental in calling a meeting in London on April 19 which was really the beginning of the Ladies’ Golf Union…
The meeting decided that an annual golf championship should be held, the winner to receive a gold medal and to be styled Lady Champion for the year. Lytham & St Annes had already thought of something on these lines and had advertised a challenge cup, valued at £50 for the competition annually over their links. This was amicably settled by the Ladies’ Golf Union agreeing to hold the first championship over the Lytham & St Annes course.
On June 13, 1893, thirty-eight ladies were vying for the cup, and after three days’ golf, the winner was Lady Margaret Scott. The play was over the Ladies’ Course of nine holes, and the winner was a model of steadiness because her scores were always between 40 and 42. There were entries from [England] Ireland and France, but none, unfortunately from Scotland.”
Lady Margaret Scott won the first of three back-to-back editions of the “Ladies’ Championship” as it was first known, beating Issette Pearson in the final of the first two events. Cecil Leitch (1914 to 1921, interrupted by WWI) and Enid Wilson (between 1931 and 1933), author of the above passage, were the only other golfers to win three consecutive titles.
Until the introduction of the professional era in the mid-1970s, the Womens Amateur Championship, previously known as the British Ladies Amateur, was the most important golf tournament for women in Great Britain. Even in the commercialised modern era, it’s still one of the most prestigious annual match play events in the women’s calendar.
Simone de la Chaume from France was the first overseas visitor to win the championship at Royal County Down in 1927 and Babe Zaharias became the first American champion at Gullane in 1947. The greatest margin of victory in the final so far is Joyce Wethered’s 9 & 7 triumph against Cecil Leitch at Royal St George’s in 1920.
Today, the championship attracts a top international field with the winner gaining entry to the Women’s British Open, US Women’s Open, The Evian Championship and Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship, as well as lifting the historic Pam Barton Memorial Salver.
Barton was a former Curtis Cup player who captured the US Women’s Amateur in 1936 and also won two of her four British Ladies Amateur finals during the 1930s. Aged only 26, she was tragically killed at RAF Detling in 1943 when the Tiger Moth she was a passenger in crashed during take-off in bad weather.
2019 Womens Amateur Champion Emily Toy with the Pam Barton Memorial Salver and Championship Cup at Royal County Down – image courtesy of the R&A
Thirteen Royal clubs have hosted the event and the last of these to appear on the rota was Royal St George’s in 2014. The only Royal course missing from our listings below is Royal Ascot as the club moved to a new site in 2015, fifty-six years after the tournament took place at its previous location on Ascot Heath. Royal Portrush and Royal County Down in Northern Ireland have each hosted nine editions of the championships.
The Womens Amateur Top 100 Leaderboard