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The Ladies Putting Club of St. Andrews

Imagine it’s the early 1860s. You’re a young Scottish woman. Like most people, you have some free time now and then. The problem is, there isn’t a lot available for respectable women: you can play croquet, you can play battledore (a forerunner of badminton), you can do archery. That’s about it.

What’s a lady to do?

If one of the men in your family was a member of St. Andrews, you’d have another option. Caddies established a small putting area where Rusacks Hotel now stands. When is course was quiet, you could join a few intrepid ladies putting.

There was some territorial tension between the caddies and the ladies, however. One Mr. D. L. Burn had an idea: set aside an area for the ladies, away from the caddies and the public eye. A Mrs. Boothby ran with the idea, and suggested rabbit-holed, rough piece of ground north of the Swilcan Burn. Old Tom Morris laid out a nine-hole mini course.

The St. Andrews’ Ladies Golf Club was officially formed in 1867. This was also the year of the first Women’s competition. First prize was a gold locket. Second prize, a silver pebble brooch. Both prizes remain with the club and women golfers compete for them annually.

The club flourished and membership grew. By 1900, there were 400 lady members. Even today, when women can play anywhere, the club retains 200 lady members.

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