R&A welcomes several female honorary members (UPDATED)
By Torleif Sorenson on 2/10/15
Last September, we told you about the Royal & Ancient finally voting to admit women as members. Of the roughly 1,800 members worldwide who voted, an overwhelming 85% voted "yes."
In addition to seven women who have been given "ordinary memberships," seven prominent women have accepted honorary memberships with the R&A, the organization announced earlier today.
HRH Anne, The Princess Royal (right), is the second child and first daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip of Great Britain. She competed in the equestrian events at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montréal. But as Martin Dempster of The Scotsman appropriately notes, the inclusion of Princess Anne seems unusual given that she once famously described golf in an uncomplimentary fashion:
"Golf seems to me to be an arduous way to go for a walk. I'd prefer to take the dogs out."The inclusion of the princess seems to be more because of her work in promoting participation in Olympic sports.
(Would anyone like to venture a prediction of how many times she actually sets foot in the R&A clubhouse?)
On a decidedly more worthwhile tack, the R&A also welcomed Englishwoman Dame Laura Davies (right), whose 85 worldwide victories include four major championships. She also played in all of the first twelve Solheim Cup matches, amassing a 22-18-6 record. Queen Elizabeth II appointed Davies a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2014, and Davies will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in July at Saint Andrews.
Renée Powell, the notable black American LPGA player became the first woman to be a head professional at a golf course in the United Kingdom. Powell served as the head pro at Silvermere in Surrey, outside London. After she retired from the LPGA in 1980, Powell also developed several inner-city golf programs here in the United States. Fifteen years later, she became the first black American woman to earn Class A membership in the PGA of America.
Belle Robertson may not be a household name outside the UK, but she won the 1981 British Ladies Amateur Championship and played in seven Curtis Cup matches. That included the Great Britain & Ireland team that won on American soil for the first time ever in 1986 at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Lally Segard, also known as Vicomtesse de Saint-Sauveur, won the British Girls' Championship in 1937 and the British Ladies Amateur Championship in 1950. She also co-founded the Espirito Santo Trophy, which is the women's World Amateur Team Championship — the counterpart to the men's Eisenhower Trophy. As the R&A points out, she is an Officer of France's National Order of Merit and a Commander of the Order of Sporting Merit.
Annika Sörenstam, with her WGHOF status, her 93 tournament victories worldwide, and her 22–11–4 record in the Solheim Cup, was undoubtedly a no-brainer choice for the R&A. She needs no further introduction.
Finally, Louise Suggs is also an appropriate honorary member. Suggs won eleven amateur championships, including the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship in 1947 and the British Ladies Amateur in 1948. Also as an amateur, she won the 1946 and 1947 Women's Western Open Championships, which were designated and recognized as major championships after the LPGA was founded. Indeed, after Suggs turned professional, she helped co-found the LPGA, and won 58 professional tournaments, including nine more majors.
Suggs was one of the inaugural inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1967, while the USGA gave her the Bob Jones Award in 2007 for fine sportsmanship in golf. Among the honors she has been given from the LPGA is that the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award is named in her honor.
UPDATEBlogger Geoff Shackelford posted the press release with the names of the seven women who have been given "ordinary" memberships with the R&A:
Claire Dowling is a notable figure in amateur golf in Great Britain and captained Team GB&I at the 2000 Curtis Cup at Ganton in England.
Martha Lang is another amateur golfer and Curtis Cup participant who won the 1988 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur at Amelia Island Plantation, then lost the 1991 final at Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Carol Semple (f.k.a. Carol Semple Thompson) is arguably the most successful woman ever in amateur golf.
She won the 1973 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship, the 1974 British Ladies' Amateur, two North and South Women's Amateurs, and four consecutive U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Championships, from 1999 to 2002. She played in twelve Curtis Cup matches, winning eight times. She then captained two winning U.S. Curtis Cup teams in 2006 and 2008. It was also in 2008 that she was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in the Lifetime Achievement category.
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