Thursday will see a first for women in golf when Scotland’s St. Andrews hosts the Women’s British Open, the first professional women’s tournament ever held on its grounds, with a record-breaking prize of £1,050,000. For those of you who (like me, to be honest) don’t know a whole lot about the professional golf circuit, here’s a fact: St. Andrews is one of the most revered and famous golf courses in the world, and the men have played 22 Opens there. To put the occasion in perspective, consider Annika Sorenstam‘s memory of the St. Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club’s headquarters nearly 20 years ago:
“When I played there as an amateur, there was a sign out there that says, ‘No dogs or women allowed.’”
Wow. I could deconstruct the gender bias of this until the weekend. Instead, I’ll just post a picture of Sorenstam.
Sorenstam, Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, Se Ri Pak, Sherri Steinhauer, Ai Miyazato and others will take the field August 2–5. (Er, that may be a baseball metaphor. But you know what I mean.) Here’s a glimpse of Miyazato practicing earlier this week on the infamously tricky Old Course.
Not surprisingly, St. Andrews’ website doesn’t highlight that wacky sign Sorenstam remembers (or their outrageous prejudice against our canine friends), but they do offer up a brief (as in it skips four hundred years) history of women’s golf on the grounds. Women have always been allowed on the Old Course; in the sixteenth century, Mary Queen of Scots was the first woman to play there. (Presumably this has nothing to do with her tragic life, though my golf game undoubtedly qualifies for that label.)
Australian Hall of Famer Karrie Webb says it best:
“It’s definitely a huge step for women to be allowed in the clubhouse, and I’m glad that it’s on such a big occasion that we’re moving forward in the right direction in the game of golf.”