Women’s competitive golf centenary celebration

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A ‘who’s who’ of women’s golf in Queensland, as well as Golf Australia CEO James Sutherland, recently attended an event at The Brisbane Golf Club to mark the centenary of the Queensland Ladies’ Golf Union.

Joining Mr Sutherland, Golf Queensland State Manager Luke Bates, and Golf Australia Board members Peter Castrisos and Richard Allen, were numerous Golf Queensland officials, District Presidents and Club Presidents. But those who were vital to the historic occasion were 75 passionate female golfers representing 16 clubs and four districts across the state of Queensland.

And they brought with them many items of memorabilia, including trophies dating back to the early 1920s, minute books from the 1980s, honour boards and historical records of the Queensland Ladies’ Golf Union from 1922.

The Queensland Ladies Golf Union (QLGU) was formed at The Brisbane Golf Club (BGC) on October 24, 1922, by delegates from Royal Queensland, BGC and Indooroopilly Golf Club. And it was Norma Lovelace, QLGU President from 1992 to 1995, who recently advised BGC members of this important date in Queensland golf history.

In the preceding 100 years passionate volunteers have coordinated golf events across the state for women of all ages, hosting international and national events, annual Queensland State Championships, Queensland Junior State Championship events and the Queensland Country Championship. QLGU also oversaw the formation of various districts throughout Queensland, starting in 1976 with Gold Coast, North Queensland, Wide Bay Burnett and Brisbane District in 1983.

The QLGU has guided the development of talented female players and supported many to gain experience at State and National levels. Numerous have represented Australia and have become professional golfers. Among those high achievers have been BGC members Judith Percy and Joan Fletcher.

During the 1990s State and National amateur tournaments were a virtual rite of passage to the professional golf circuit for players such as Karrie Webb and Rachel Hetherington, both of whom turned professional in 1994. Karrie Webb remains the No.1 on the ‘all-time’ Australian Order of Merit, with Rachel Hetherington sixth and another Queenslander, Corinne Dibnah, tenth. And between 1962 and 1995, Queensland won the Gladys Hay Interstate series a record eight times.

BGC Vice-President, Deb Kember, said generations of women have followed in the footsteps of the pioneers of 100 years ago, strengthening the pathway to top amateur ranks and professional golf, and providing the important wrap-around support system.

“Testimony to their efforts is the current National Order of Merit, listing eight Queenslanders in the top 20 Open Women’s category, and eight in the Junior Girls’ category. BGC’s Hannah Reeves is on the Junior Girls’ list,” she revealed.

“It is just as important to encourage, support and nurture juniors and women so they can develop the confidence to compete in Club Championships, Pennants, District events and State and National Championships. Or, simply, to enjoy a social game with friends.”

“The women who formed the QLGU 100 years ago envisaged that, and the progression has developed every year since.”

Deb emphasised that the centenary celebration was a thank you to volunteers, players and mentors who ‘light the spark of interest and enthusiasm’ for golf in those around them.” – TONY DURKIN