Canadian Ladies’ International Team Matches – A capsule history
In 1930, Glenna Collett organized an unofficial US women’s team of amateur golfers to travel to Great Britain to play in the British Women’s Amateur Championship and to play a series of matches against various British Women’s teams.
The success of this inaugural trip enticed the Ladies Golf Union (LGU) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) to formalize future trips. Miss Harriot Curtis and Miss Margaret Curtis, each former UC Women’s Amateur champions, donated the trophy to be competed for by the teams. Their vision led to the following inscription on the trophy: “To stimulate friendly rivalry between women golfers of many lands”. With this idea in mind, teams from Britain and the US competed for the first Curtis Cup at Wentworth, England in May 1932. The organizing committee made provisions for the French Golf Union to join the competition “whenever it felt able to do so.” Financing a team for overseas competition proved challenging. Like the men’s Walker Cup competition, the women decided to hold their Curtis Cup Matches every two years.
In 1934, the LGU and the USGA scheduled the Curtis Cup matches to follow the USGA Women’s Amateur on September 27 and 28th at Beaconsfield GC, Montreal. The Canadian Ladies Golf Union (CLGU) sought an opportunity to join these matches in the future. To show the Curtis Cup officials Canadian women could compete on a level basis with the British and American stars, the CLGU invited the British team to compete in the Canadian Ladies Open Championship. During this event a Canadian team competed against the British Curtis Cup team using the same format as the Curtis Cup matches. “The matches were played in the highest spirit of friendly rivalry and both the visitors as well as the Quebec Team members showed fine form.” The teams tied 3 ½ points each.
In October 1938, the CLGU again invited the British Curtis Cup team to enter the Canadian Women’s Open at Royal Ottawa. On this occasion, the CLGU formed a national women’s team to compete against the visitors. The International Team Matches between Canada and Great Britain followed the same format as the Curtis Cup Matches. “The British with a rollicking team of five of the foremost players from the Old Country proved competent shot makers. Yet, though this group won both foursomes and three of the singles matches from the Canadian squad, it should be noted they were only a shade better than the Canadian women. The final result was: Great Britain 5 points and Canada 2 points.
Unfortunately, the CLGU could not convince the LGU or the USGA to expand the Curtis Cup Matches to include Canada.
The CLGU renewed their desire to be part of the Curtis Cup Matches again in 1950. The women organized an informal competition between the British Curtis Cup team and a CLGU team during the Canadian Women’s Open at the Toronto Golf Club on September 20th. The “younger school” represented by Babs Davies of Vancouver, Daintry Chilsolm of Montreal, and Anne Sharp of Welland provided encouragement future Canadian teams could compete against the strong British players. On this occasion, the British team defeated the Canadian squad 8-2. Because of the strong showing by the Canadian players, the LGU invited the CLGU to send a team to Great Britain to compete in the British Ladies Amateur and a series of International matches throughout Great Britain.
In 1953, the LGU organized the LGU Commonwealth Tournament at Fromby, England. The competition included teams from Canada, New Zealand, and two from Great Britain – Women’s team and a Junior Girl’s team. Results of the competition: Great Britain 16 ½ pts, Canada 12 ½ pts, British Juniors 7 pts, and New Zealand 6 pts.
“Of the visitors, Miss Stewart was outstanding. She was obviously suffering from the reaction of winning the reaction of winning the British Championship the previous week, and admitted that she could not concentrate properly. Nevertheless, she showed herself to be a player of the highest class. She was the only one who consistently used the pitch and run stroke, and who modified her shots to suit the course. It was an ordeal for her to play foursomes, and quite a new experience.”
Note: Marlene Stewart Streit is the only Canadian woman to win the British Women’s Amateur Championship.
In 1954, the R&A Golf Club in St Andrews celebrated its bicentenary. To celebrate the event, the R&A created the Commonwealth Team Matches. Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and South Africa competed in the first Ryder Cup format matches at St Andrews. In 1959, the Commonwealth Matches expanded to include women’s teams from the same countries. Lady Nancy Viscountesse Astor served as the first president of the Ladies Golf Union and together they donated the trophy still used today. “The first Commonwealth Tournament, held so rightly at St. Andrews, Scotland, abundantly achieved the purpose for which it was intended – the fostering of happy and healthy Commonwealth relationships and golf of supreme quality.”
The Men’s Commonwealth Tournament ended in 1975 because the World Amateur Men’s Team Championship became a more popular event. The Women’s Commonwealth Tournament has been held every 4 years along with the World Amateur Woman’s Team Championship.
In 2007, the governing committee made a major change. In order to allow women players from Ireland to be a member of the Great Britain team, the competition changed its name from Commonwealth to Astor.
Each country is represented by 4 female players competing in foursomes and single match play in a round robin format.
Below are the known results for the Commonwealth Tournament. If you have any results or pictures we are missing we’d love to hear from you and add them to our records!
Venue: Beaconsfield Golf Club, Canada
Team picture not available. Players: Miss Darling, Miss Lockhart, Miss Kirkham, Miss Miss Tooke, Miss Beer, Miss Dagenais, Miss Soper, Miss Kinsella and Miss Nicoll
|Great Britain||3 ½|
Venue: Royal Ottawa Golf Club, Canada
Team picture not available. Players: Ada Mackenzie, Mrs. Graeme Pyke, Babs Davies, Mrs. J. H. Todd, Daintry Chisholm, Mrs. N. J. Carlson and Anne Sharp
Venue: Fromby Golf Club, England
|Great Britain||16 ½|
|Great Britain Juniors||7|
Venue: St. Andrews, Scotland
Venue: Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Australia
Venue: Hamilton Golf & Country Club, Canada
Venue: Hamilton Golf Club, New Zealand
Venue: Ganton Golf Club, England
Venue: Lake Karrinyup Country Club, Australia
Venue: Glendale Country Club, Canada
|Great Britain||1||1||1||1 ½|
|New Zealand||1||1||1||1 ½|
Venue: Christchurch Golf Club, New Zealand
|New Zealand||1||1||1||1 ½|
Venue: Northumberland Golf Club, England
|Great Britain||2 ½|
|New Zealand||1 ½|
Venue: Royal Sydney Golf Club, Australia
Venue: Marine Drive Golf Club, Canada
Venue: Remuera Golf Club, New Zealand
|Great Britain||N/A 4th|
|South Africa||N/A 5th|
Venue: Royal Johannesburg Golf Club, South Africa
Team picture not available. Players: S Kim, L Knowlton, M Lapointe, M Leblanc and M A Leblanc.
|Great Britain & Ireland||3|
Venue: Fairhaven Golf Club, England
|Great Britain & Ireland||4|
Venue: Grange Golf Club, Australia
|Great Britain & Ireland||2|
Venue: Royal Colwood Golf Club, Canada
|New Zealand||3||0||1||3 ½|