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Indian History of Women Golf And its Leading Figures

4moles Editorial
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Posted by Admin 26 Jan 2024

Written By: Damini Agrawal

 

 

In 1891, two important women, Lady Curzon and Lady Frazer, started the Calcutta Ladies Golf Club. Lady Curzon was the wife of the Viceroy of British India, and Lady Frazer was the wife of the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. They created a 9-hole golf course just for women on May 7th, 1891. To manage the club, a group of ladies formed a committee.

 

 

Calcutta Ladies Golf Club

 

Lady Curzon and Lady Frazer, along with some local ladies from princely families in West Bengal, raised Rupees 3000 (equivalent to 35 British Pounds). This money was used to set up a large tented space, which became a unique Clubhouse on Wheels. They couldn't build a permanent structure on Kolkata’s Maidan.

 


Interestingly, two years later, in 1893, a well-known amateur golfer named Horace Hutchinson received a request from Blanche Martin. She wanted recognition for a Ladies Golf Union and the organization of the first-ever Ladies championship. This marked an important chapter in the history of women's golf.

 

 

women of Calcutta Ladies Golf Club

 

 

In the olden days, a golfer named Horace Hutchinson said that "ladies couldn't play golf because they weren't fit for it". He even made a funny remark suggesting that "if women golfers argued a lot, their wigs might fall off!"

 


Surprisingly, the Calcutta Ladies Golf Club existed before the Ladies Golf Union (LGU) was formed. Later on, the Calcutta Ladies Golf Club became affiliated with the LGU, and the LGU's rules became like a guidebook for Indian ladies' golf in 1970!

 


One of the oldest trophies, the Walker Cup, was introduced by the Calcutta Ladies Golf Club in 1905. English ladies played this match from 1905 to 1969 in Calcutta (Kolkata). For 64 years, an English lady won the Walker Cup, except during war years when it wasn't played.

 


In 1969, the Indian Golf Union Ladies Section started under the Indian Golf Union. The English Ladies then handed over the Walker Trophy, also known as the All India Amateur Golf Championship, to the Indian Golf Union Ladies Section. This led to the decision to organize the All Indian Ladies Amateur Golf Championship, previously known as the Walker Trophy, in three cities: Calcutta (Kolkata), Bombay (Mumbai), and New-Delhi, until 1999.

 

 

Ace Golfers: Legends of Indian Golf

 

 

1. Meera Phookan: A Sari-Clad Golf Maven in Digboi, Assam


In the swinging 1960s and 1970s, Meera Phookan emerged as an icon of unconventional elegance. A trailblazer in Digboi, Assam, she defied norms, playing golf in a sari. Alongside golf companions like Mrs. Jamuna Chakraborty, Mrs. Romola Sen, Mrs. Sam Weller, and Mrs. Jean Beven, Meera not only braved the tough 18-hole Digboi golf course but also clinched victories in competitions at Digboi, Zaloni, and planters’ clubs. Silver trophies, napkin holders, and serving spoons adorned her collection, and she even played a round in Delhi with India’s Vice-President.

 

 

 

 

2. Anjani Desai : Pioneering Triumph at the All India Ladies Amateur Golf Championship


The landmark year of 1970 witnessed a historic moment in Indian women's golf. The Calcutta Ladies Golf Club hosted the All India Ladies Amateur Golf Championship, and Anjani Desai etched her name as the inaugural winner. This triumph set the stage for a new era in Indian women's participation in national championships. The subsequent expansion of the championship to South India in 2000 was a testament to the growing influence of women's golf.

 

 

 

 

3. Sita Rawlley : A Beacon of Indian Women's Golf


In an era where few ladies embraced golf, Sita Rawlley emerged as the leading light in the 1960s and 1970s. Playing as an amateur due to the absence of professional tournaments for women in India, Sita won the Ladies All India Amateur Golf Championship three consecutive times from 1976 to 1978. Her prowess on the course earned her the prestigious Arjuna Award in 1977, and she went on to represent India on multiple occasions, both as a player and an official.

 

 

 

4. Smriti Mehra: A Trailblazer in Indian Women's Golf

 

Smriti Mehra, also known as Smriti Mehra Guffin, is a pride of Indian women's golf. Her professional career, starting in 1994, saw her rise to prominence with victories on the second-tier Futures Tour, earning her a spot on the prestigious LPGA Tour. Despite a setback with shoulder surgery in 2005, Smriti continued to shine, reaffirming her dominance in Indian golf. Notable titles include the Malaysian National Championship (1993) and victories in events like the Green Mountain National FUTURES Golf Classic (1996) and the Frye Classic (2004). Her journey symbolizes resilience and inspiration for aspiring golfers.

 

 

 

5. Sharmila Nicollet: From Swimming Prodigy to Golf Luminary


Sharmila Nicollet's journey into golf commenced as a ‘fun outing’ at the age of 11, introduced to the sport by her cousin. A keen athlete and swimming prodigy, Sharmila quickly embraced golf and embarked on a commendable amateur career. Her notable achievements include winning the 2008 All-India Ladies Amateur Championship and representing India at the 2006 Asian Games. At just 16, she partnered with British star Laura Davies during a special challenge match ahead of the 2007 Indian Open. Though establishing herself in the professional ranks took time, Nicollet secured a full tour card for the Ladies European Tour in 2012, becoming only the second Indian and the youngest Indian golfer to achieve this feat.

 

 

 

 

6. Aditi Ashok: A Meteoric Rise on the Global Golf Stage


The current decade has witnessed the meteoric rise of Aditi Ashok, a name synonymous with excellence in Indian women's golf. Her achievements, including an Olympic silver and victories on the LPGA tour, have catapulted Indian women's golf onto the global stage, garnering well-deserved recognition. Aditi's amateur career sparkled with several remarkable successes, clinching the National Junior Championship three times consecutively from 2012 to 2014. Her transition to the professional arena in 2016 marked the beginning of a promising career. Aditi's notable victories include the Hero Women’s Indian Open in 2016, making her the first Indian woman to secure a Ladies European Title (LET) and earning her the prestigious Rookie of the Year title.

 

 

 

7. Diksha Dagar: Youngest Indian Woman to Triumph on Ladies European Tour

 

Another rising star in the Indian women's golf scenario, Diksha Dagar achieved a major breakthrough by winning the 2019 South African Women's Open, becoming the youngest Indian woman to win on the Ladies European Tour. Diksha's talent and potential have garnered attention both in India and abroad.

 

 

 

 

8. Vani Kapoor: Inspiring the Next Generation of Indian Golfers

 

Kapoor turned professional in 2015, embarking on her journey as a pro golfer. A prominent Indian golfer with several titles on the Women's Golf Association of India Tour, her consistent performances have earned her recognition in the domestic golfing circuit, and she continues to inspire aspiring golfers in India.

 

 

 

 

The Road Ahead: A Bright Future Beckons

 

The future of Indian women's golf is promising, with increased participation, government initiatives, and rising corporate sponsorships contributing to its growth. The dedication and support provided will determine the trajectory of Indian women golfers, as they continue to break barriers and inspire future generations on the green. As many talented young golfers are on their way to shine, the horizon looks bright for the sport's future in India.

 

 

In conclusion, this article provides only a glimpse into the rich history of Indian women's golf. Delving deeper into the stories of these extraordinary women and actively supporting their endeavors will allow us all to contribute to shaping a future where Indian women stand tall on the global golf stage.

 

ALSO READ: Rory McIlroy's Epic Win at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic

ALSO READ: Aditi Ashok Wins 2023 Andalucia Costa Del Sol Open De Espana

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