Two factors governed the evolution of women’s golf in BC. As the number of women golfers in different areas increased, ladies’ golf clubs were formed. As soon as an area had about five women’s golf clubs, they united into a golf association. In 1933, there were 18 women’s clubs in BC who belonged to the CLGU in BC. The national branch encouraged them to form a separate provincial group called the CLGU BC Branch. The second factor governing the growth of women’s golf in BC was all provincial competitions were required to play on an 18-hole golf course.
Although the Royal Montreal Golf Club formed in 1873, women members only now began paying yearly dues of 3 dollars. In this year, the women’s first golf club formed within the Royal Montreal Golf Club.
The women’s clubs at Royal Montreal and Royal Quebec played their first inter club matches.
Golf in British Columbia began without any influence from golf in the east. In the fall of 1893, Harvey Combe returned from London and laid out the Victoria GC. Because his wife, Margaret, and daughter, Nora, played tennis in the summer, he encouraged them to play golf in the winter.
The women’s clubs in Ontario and Quebec introduced the first handicap system. Par for the course for women for the coming year was set by the lowest gross score in the women’s first spring golf event.
By 1895, nine women golfers at Victoria GC participated in the first BC Ladies’ Amateur Championship, held in conjunction with the second BC Men’s Amateur Championship. These championships were basically club events at the Victoria Golf Club with the provision that competition was open to all golfers on the Pacific coast who belonged to a golf club. The Victoria Golf Club hosted these two events until 1922.
In February of 1899, six golf clubs in the Pacific Northwest (Tacoma, Victoria, Seattle, Spokane, Waverley, and Walla Walla) met to form the Pacific North West Golf Association (PNWGA). The purpose was to conduct a men’s and women’s regional championship for players in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Montana. In order to participate, the players had to belong to a member club of the PNWGA. Similar to the BC championships, the PNWGA Championships required an 18-hole course.
The Victoria, Tacoma, Seattle, and Waverley Golf Clubs began holding spring and fall outings (championships). Generally, the PNWGA held their championship in the spring; hence, the BC championships were moved to the fall.
The Royal Canadian Golf Association (RCGA) hosted the first Canadian Ladies Amateur Championship. Until 1947, the RCGA considered it part of their mandate to conduct and to finance the Canadian Ladies Amateur Championship.
Unlike the BC Men’s Amateur Championship, who recognized the annual champion by engraving the champion’s name on the Bostok Cup, the BC Ladies Amateur Champion only received a keeper gift, usually a perfume bottle, silver vase, or silver boxes. In 1905, A.C. Flumerfelt donated a trophy to be presented to the annual champion.
Florence Harvey from Hamilton, Ontario, Mabel Thomson from St. John, New Brunswick, and Violet Sweeny from Victoria, BC, played in the British Women’s Amateur Championship conducted by the Ladies Golf Union (LGU). The three women also participated in the 1912 and 1913 events.
The LGU sent a British team to play in the Canadian Ladies Amateur Championship and the US Ladies Amateur Championship. 18-year-old Vera Ramsey formed part of the 1913 British team. She represented Britain’s future champion golfers and the LGU considered her one of their rising stars. In 1918, after the war, Vera married Harold Hutchings, a Winnipeg, Manitoba, businessman. In 1924, Vera won the Canadian Ladies Closed Championship. That same year she moved to BC to become one of the province’s prominent women golfers.
At the 1913 Canadian Ladies Amateur, Miss Harvey gathered a group of Canadian and British women golfers to a meeting. The group decided to form the Canadian Ladies Golf Union as a branch of the Ladies Golf Union in Britain. The Canadian women golfers wanted access to the LGU handicapping system.
In British Columbia, various women’s golf clubs began forming their own local golf associations to conduct a regional championship and to standardize the rules of golf among the member clubs.
Interior Ladies Golf Association – 1920
Crow’s Nest Pass Golf Association – 1920
Mainland Women’s Golf Association – 1921
Victoria City and District Golf Association – 1920
West Kootenay Ladies Golf Association– 1933
Cariboo Ladies Golf Association – 1938
The CLGU, at their annual meeting conducted during the Canadian Ladies Amateur Championship, passed a motion to adopt their own constitution to distinguish themselves from the LGU. At this meeting, the women’s golf clubs of Quebec formed their own provincial branch.
“In the formative years of the CLGU, individual clubs across Canada joined the union through the national office in Toronto. As the number of women’s clubs grew in the province, the clubs requested the CLGU to grant them a provincial branch status in the CLGU. The clubs in each province then conducted their own affairs rather than depend on the National Committee.”
Soon other provinces followed: Manitoba in 1922, the Maritimes in 1925, Ontario in 1926, Alberta in 1928, and British Columbia in 1933.
At the 1922 BC Men’s Amateur Championship, golf clubs in BC decided to unite under the British Columbia Golf Association (BCGA). The purpose for the new association was to conduct the BC Men’s Amateur and the BC Ladies’ Amateur Championships. Each championship alternated between the Lower Mainland and Victoria. The original requirement, that the Men’s and Ladies’ Championship be conducted on an 18-hole golf course, remained in place. Also, all players wishing to participate in the championships needed to belong to a member club.
Also in this year, the CLGU inaugurated the Canadian Ladies Closed Championship. In contrast to the Canadian Ladies’ Amateur, only Canadian residents could play in the Closed Championship. The CLGU also began offering a silver bowl to be awarded to the provincial champion for that year.
The CLGU awarded the golf clubs of BC the BC Branch status. Violet Pooley Sweeny became the first president. The BC Branch consisted of 15 clubs (see appendix).
Upon formation of the CLGU BC Branch, the executive divided BC into two divisions: the Vancouver Island division and the Mainland division.
Vera Hutchings became the first BC woman to win the Canadian Ladies Closed Championship.
The Canadian Women’s Open and Closed Championships were hosted by Royal Colwood G&CC on Vancouver Island and Jericho Country Club on the Mainland.
The RCGA changed their constitution that required their group to conduct and to finance the Canadian Ladies championships. Control of this event became the responsibility of the CLGU.
The BC Branch conducted the first Junior Girls Championship.
Vancouver and District Junior Girls – 1956
CLGA Interior Junior Girls – 1967
The Island Junior Girls – 1967
District 1 Junior Girls – 1975
Mid Island Junior Girls – 1972
Prince George Junior Girls – 1972
The BC Branch divided the Mainland division into the Mainland division and the Interior division. The Interior division had six clubs. On the provincial executive for the BC Branch, the third Vice President served as the Interior Division Chairman.
The BC Business Girls League formed in the Vancouver and district division.
The women’s national golf associations of the commonwealth countries began the Commonwealth Matches. They were held every four years.
The Penticton Golf Club opened the first 18-hole golf course outside of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Soon Kamloops, Kelowna, Rossland Trail, and Nanaimo had 18-hole courses.
Gayle Hitchens, from the Capilano G&CC, became the first BC woman to win the Canadian Ladies Amateur Championship.
The Penticton Golf Club hosted the first Ladies BC Championship to be held outside the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. Later, the Kelowna Golf Club (1968), the Kamloops Golf Club (1971), the Nanaimo Golf Club (1973), the Rossland Trail Golf & Country Club (1975), and the Prince George Golf and Curling Club (1979) hosted the BC Ladies’ Amateur.
The Canadian Ladies Golf Union changed their name to the Canadian Ladies Golf Association (CLGA).
In 1973, 86 women’s golf clubs belonged to the CLGA BC Branch. To better serve the member clubs, the Branch decided to divide the province into nine districts.
District 1 – Victoria
Districts 2, 5, 8 – Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley
District 3 – Okanagan
District 4 – Kootenays
District 6 – Upper Island
District 7 – Northwest
District 9 – Northeast
The BC Branch conducted the first BC Senior Women’s Championship.
BC Mainland Senior Women’s Championship – 1951
Vancouver Island Senior Women’s Championship – 1966
CLGU Interior Senior Women’s Championship – 1967
CLGU Kootenay Senior Women’s Championship – 1972
District 1 Senior Women’s Championship – 1981
The founding clubs in 1933 for the CLGU BC Branch:
Gorge Vale GC
Maple Ridge GC
Marine Drive G&CC
Point Grey G&CC
Royal Colwood GC
Shaughnessy Heights GC
West Point GC