The oldest club ready for Major competition

Sheila Brunton vice captain, Linda Gordon secretary and Pat Sawers captain showing off the Carnoustie Ladies Golf Club flag as being one of the oldest ladies clubs surviving.
Sheila Brunton vice captain, Linda Gordon secretary and Pat Sawers captain showing off the Carnoustie Ladies Golf Club flag as being one of the oldest ladies clubs surviving.

IT IS only fitting that when the world of women’s golf descends on Carnoustie at the end of this month they will be visiting the town with the oldest surviving ladies’ club in the world.

July 28 to 31 will see the Women’s Open being played over the Championship Course, almost 138 years after Carnoustie Ladies’ Golf Club was first established.

Top players including defending champion Yani Tseng, 2009 winner Catriona Matthew and Michelle Wie will be competing at this year’s event at Carnoustie.

And even though it will be the first time Carnoustie has hosted a major women’s competition, it was 1873 when the ladies’ club in the town was first established.

The men of the Dalhousie Golf Club formed the club for their wives and the ladies played on an 18 hole, par three course which stretched from the Lochty Burn, on land donated by Miss Kinloch.

For the first few years, the men of the Dalhousie Club ran the women’s club until 1886, and it was in 1895 that their clubhouse, which still remains today, was built.

However, the top women players who will be competing over Carnoustie will probably look very different to the ladies who first started playing the links.

Carnoustie Ladies’ Golf Club secretary Linda Gordon explained: “The women would play in long skirts and the golf season only ran between July and September. It wasn’t all year around like it is now.

“And obviously the equipment that these women will be bringing to Carnoustie will be completely different.

“Back then they probably only had a couple of clubs in a bag, whereas now we have 14 clubs and other things like distance markers.”

But despite the changes to golf, especially women’s golf since the early days, a lot of things still remain.

The clubhouse built in 1895 is still the home of Carnoustie Ladies’ Golf Club and has changed very little since it was completed.

The Gold Medal, which was first contested in 1878 and won by a Miss E. Stewart, is still played for today.

But one slight difference from the days when the Dalhousie men ran the club is the course the ladies play.

In the 1920s when James Braid re-designed the links, the original ladies’ course was abandoned in favour of new ladies’ tees.

Now with the planning for the Women’s Open, which will be the only Major golf competition in Scotland this year, well under-way, the Carnoustie Ladies are looking forward to the tournament.

And it will be a proud moment for the club next month when they welcome the best of female golfers to one of the places where golf for women all began.

Club captain Pat Sawers said: “To think that golf has been played continuously here since 1873 for women, it is great to think that Carnoustie will be hosting one of the biggest tournaments in women’s golf.

“And it is also nice to think they will be coming to where it all started in 1873.”