A look at the history of our pioneering female golfers

Dr Fiona Skillen, in the purple, enjoys a round of golf.
Dr Fiona Skillen, in the purple, enjoys a round of golf.

Researchers are set to tee-off the first in-depth study of the history of women’s golf in Scotland.

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) is working with the British Golf Museum in St Andrews, which is run by The R&A, to chart the development of the sport from the Second World War onwards.

It’s hoped the study will trace the hidden history of the women’s game, from 1945 to 1995, explore what first attracted players, the influence of class and age, and the potential challenges faced to regular participation.

Audio interviews with women who played the game at club level will be recorded and stored in the museum’s archives as part of the project.

Figures, from Scottish Golf, show around 14 per cent of Scotland’s 211,000 golf club members are female, which is lower than other European countries such as Germany, Austria and Sweden.

Dr Fiona Skillen, senior lecturer in history at GCU, who will supervise the project, said: “While we know a great amount of detail about the historical development of the men’s game, we know relatively little about the history of women’s participation in the sport.

“This is about the past but it can inform the future. We want more young women and girls to be participating in golf, so hopefully this will give us a little more understanding and insight to help market the game.

“The research will look at the motivation to play the game and the barriers women faced.

“Recording interviews will help us to capture women’s experiences of golf at a grassroots level from the end of the Second World War onwards for posterity within the BGM archive.”

The hunt is now on to recruit a full-time researcher who will be based at the British Golf Museum over the next three years. The research post, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is expected to attract applications from across Europe and the US.

The British Golf Museum is one of Scotland’s top 20 visitor attractions and tells the story of golf’s development from the middle ages to the present day.

Hannah Fleming, Museum & Heritage Assistant Curator at the British Golf Museum, said: “Our women and girls’ collection and archive will provide vital context for research, which will enable greater appreciation and knowledge of these pioneering golfers.”