Exhibition chronicles women’s golf

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WHO was the first woman to pick up a golf club? We may never know. What we do know is that many bold and colourful characters followed in her footsteps.

If you would like to meet some of them, check out the new exhibition at the British Golf Museum, St Andrews.

‘Ladies First: Pioneering Moments in Women’s Golf’ tells the story through key events and characters.

Mary, Queen of Scots is the first women golfer on record. But golf was not just for ‘ladies’.

At the end of the 18th century, the fishwives of Musselburgh played competitively, the cherished prize being a silk scarf.

Yet even in Victorian times, only a few sports were considered appropriate for women.

Ladies were thought to be “constitutionally and physically… unfitted for golf”, according to Horace Hutchinson in 1893.

Nevertheless, the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union and the Ladies’ Golf Union were established that same year.

It was the Ladies’ Golf Union, rather than the gentlemen’s clubs, that established a universal handicapping system, which remains the basis of the system used today.

In recent times, more women have made golf their profession and have won major titles.

This has certainly been the case for Catriona Matthew, who was the first Scottish woman to win a Major – the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Ladies First brings together a range of objects, some of which have not previously been seen by the public.

Be transported back in time by photographs and medals from St Andrews Ladies’ Putting Club, the first golf club established for women in 1867.

Discover sparkling medals and trophies from the collection of the Women Golfers’ Museum, some of which have not been on display for over 30 years.

Come and learn about the role that St Leonards School has played in the history of girl’s golf. The school had the first nine-hole golf course for girls in its grounds, designed by Old Tom Morris.

Ladies First is curated by a group of postgraduate students from the University of St Andrews, from the Museum and Gallery Studies course. This is another ‘first’ as it is the first time students from the course have collaborated with the museum.

Laurie Rae, senior curator, said: “Working with the students has been a great experience for the museum, watching a dynamic new interpretation of our collections taking shape, particularly in the year in which the Ricoh Women’s British Open returns to St Andrews.”

Louisa Grossi, one of the students curating the exhibition, added: “The exhibition has been a fantastic opportunity to highlight the importance of women’s golf history.

“It has also been a great chance to engage with the local golfing community in St Andrews and the surrounding area.”

•The exhibition runs until

September 30