On the eve of the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, the USGA Golf Museum unveiled a special exhibit to celebrate women who have blazed trails in golf course architecture. Now, golf fans who visit the Museum will get the chance to learn more about the efforts made by women to make the game more accessible to all players.
“Breaking New Ground: Women and Golf Course Architecture,” explores this rarely discussed segment of golf history and recounts unique narratives of female leadership, initiative and innovation. Curated by USGA historian Victoria Student, the exhibit features a wide range of artifacts from the USGA and pieces on loan from the United Kingdom that illustrate how, since the late 1800s, women have influenced golf course design theory and played a role in creating more equitable and enjoyable experiences for anyone who plays golf.
“These incredible women not only shaped the dialogue surrounding how courses could be more welcoming to other women, they also inspired new generations to build careers and opportunities in golf,” said Diana Murphy, president of the USGA. “We all have something to learn from their ingenuity and passion for the game, and the USGA couldn’t be prouder to showcase their contributions.”
Since the turn of the 19th century, women have adapted courses to better suit female playing abilities, and have established separate clubs to serve as places of recreation and competition. “Breaking New Ground” tells the stories of several early female golf clubs, such as Scotland’s St. Andrews Ladies’ Golf Club (1867) and Carnoustie Ladies Golf Club (1873).
In 1894, Morris County Golf Club, just 15 miles from the USGA Golf Museum in Far Hills, N.J., began as an all-women’s club. The exhibit displays the letter dated June 21, 1895 to the club’s president, Nina Howland, communicating the unanimous approval by the USGA Executive Committee for the club to become a USGA Associate Member Club, granting full voting rights.