- Women's Home Internationals
Women's Home Internationals
When the third edition of the British Ladies Amateur finished on a Friday afternoon at Portrush in 1895, the boat train to Liverpool didn’t leave until midnight the following day so an impromptu friendly match was arranged between golfers from Ireland and England on the Saturday morning.
Lady Margaret Scott, who had just won her third title in succession, was part of the seven-member England team that defeated the home side by a convincing margin of 34 holes up. A similar match took place at Royal County Down in 1899 but May Hazlet, who had just captured the first of her three Amateurs, didn’t play for the Irish team and they again lost heavily by 19 holes.
When the teams met again in 1901 on neutral ground at Aberdovey in Wales, it was third time lucky for Ireland as they finally managed to beat the Auld Enemy. Two years later, when the British Ladies Amateur was again played at Portrush, newly crowned champion Rhona Adair helped the Irish side trounce the English team 9-1.
Scotland joined in at Royal Troon in 1904 then Wales finally made it a quadrangular tournament at Royal County Down in 1907 so the first proper Women’s Home International series of matches didn’t take place until that year, when the Miller Shield was donated for competition among all four home nations.
Ireland took the first prize – but they would not win again until 73 years down the line at Cruden Bay in 1980.
In eight editions played before the intervention of the Great War, England won four and Scotland won three of the tournaments. Of the eighteen events that took place between the wars, England captured thirteen to Scotland’s five. On resumption of the series at Gullane after World War II, the Scots picked up where they’d left off before hostilities commenced with another victory and they would go on to further success in eight of the next fifteen years.
From 1963 until 1998, the English team had 25 outright wins (and a joint win with Scotland in 1967 at Sunningdale) from the competitions contested. Scotland claimed seven titles and Ireland had occasion to crack open the champagne twice (in 1980 and 1986) during that thirty-five year period.
With the new millennium fast approaching, Wales had still to make an appearance on the winner’s podium – but that all changed at Nairn in 1999 when the ladies from the Principality finally came out on top, winning the Hugh C. Kelly Cup for the first time. Since then, they’ve won it another three times (Wrexham in 2008, Irvine the following year, and Scotscraig in 2013) so it just goes to show what can happen once the psychological barrier is broken.
Eleven Royal clubs have hosted the Women’s Home Internationals and the last of these was Royal Wimbledon in 2015. Royal County Down, Royal Porthcawl and Royal Portrush have held the event five times, with Royal Troon and Royal St David’s each staging the competition four times.
The R&A assumed responsibility for the event in 2016 when the Ladies’ Golf Union merged with the St Andrews governing body. Six years later at Ballyliffin, the tournament had a new look and a new name: the Women’s and Men’s Home Internationals, comprising combined national teams of women and men. The new format of the competition sees teams of 16 players (seven women and nine men) competing in the new format across three days.
Over 18 holes, each match consists of seven foursomes games (three women and four men) and 14 singles games (six women and eight men). Team positions are determined by the highest number of match points. Historical trophies are presented to the leading country in the women's and men's matches.
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