Women in sports has always been a controversial topic, particularly because misogyny was and to an extent, still is present even in today’s world of sports. Back in the 1940s, however, women in professional sports were not as common, particularly in sports like golf. When the WPGA was founded in 1944, there was a serious lack of women’s golf tournaments in the world. Some of the tournaments that existed were amateur tournaments, but none of them were professional ones. In 1946, the US Women’s Open was founded and it was glorious. Here is more on the topic.
The Founding Years
Not every tournament starts off great and the US Women’s Open struggled for a while. This was partly due to the WPGA having poor seasons and having to disband their organization in 1949. Immediately after, in 1950, the LPGA was formed and they recognized the US Women’s Open as a major championship. With that in mind, the tournament is not recognized as a major by the European Ladies’ Tour, but neither is any other US Major. The Japanese LPGA Tour also doesn’t recognize the US Women’s Open as a major. In 1953, the LPGA ceded the rights to organize the tournament to the USGA.
The Tournament Expands
When a tournament becomes popular, you know that you are doing something right. The USGA did a great job of organizing a tournament for women golfers, however, the prizes were never the same for men golfers, which remains an issue to this day.
In the early years, however, after 1953, the tournament and women’s golf in general, became much more popular, meaning that professional golfers could make a living out of their passion. The tournament rotated throughout various United States golf courses, which hosted it annually.
Today’s tournament is similar to the one that was played for all these years. Every professional or amateur woman can qualify if their handicap index is lower than 4.4. The qualification process is a 36 holes qualifier in a single day. There are exceptions to the qualifying process which include winners of the US Women’s Open in the past ten years, as well as any major winners from the last 5 years to the top 50 from the LPGA money list and top 5 from the Japan, Korea and European Ladies’ Tour money lists. The 2021 edition of the tournament will be held in San Francisco, hosted by the Olympic Club on their Lake Course, a rather spectacular course to see.
US Women’s Open Major Champions
Some tournaments are won by people who get there, burn bright, but burn out quickly and are good enough for that one tournament. Some players are good for more than one and in the case of the US Women’s Open, those would be Betsy Rawls and Mickey Wright with 4 victories each. They are particularly interesting because they competed in the same era in the 1950s and early 1960s. With 3 victories each, the legendary Babe Zaharias and still living legend Annika Sorrenstam, and last but definitely not least, Hollis Stacey, with 18 major victories total.
The US Women’s Open is a major championship, at least according to the LPGA and is one of the best women’s golf tournaments in the world. With a rotating course, you never know what to expect until it is announced and played.