In the summer of 1910 Mrs. George Harrington of Atlanta, Georgia and Mrs. Willard Parker Sullivan of Birmingham, Alabama (later of Richmond, Virginia), concerned over the lack of a championship golf tournament for the southern states, began organizing a Women’s Southern Golf Association. The plan of the two women was to hold an inaugural tournament at the home club of Mrs Harrington, Eastlake in Atlanta, in the fall of 2010. Both ladies started a letter writing campaign of notifying golfing friends and Country Clubs throughout the South. Mrs. Sullivan worked on the actual foundation for the organization contacting the Women’s Eastern Golf Organization for help in constitution and by-laws formation. Meanwhile, Mrs Sullivan worked on the tournament site and tournament format with Eastlake Golf club. Eastlake with a full tournament schedule for the fall, gave the ladies the date of May 15, 1911. This Women’s Southern Golf Association’s Amateur Championship, born in Atlanta, Georgia in May 1911, has since been an annual event except for the war years 1918 and 1942-45.
The area of membership as voted in 1928 still comprises the 15 Southern States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Most instrumental in structuring WSGA as it stands today was Mrs. Dave Gaut of Memphis. Active in Southern affairs from 1913 she served as President from 1931-39 after winning the championship four times. In 1931 she requested a Board of Directors to assist with conducting affairs. In 1954 District Representatives were appointed (each serving several states). In 1958 it was voted to have a Representative from each state.
Mrs. Roger Smith of Nashville, the first Champion, had qualified with a 102. The first medalist was Alexa Stirling, who at age 13 carded a 95 and in subsequent years was a three time winner of both the Southern and the USGA Women’s Amateur. In 1930 at Greensboro, North Carolina, Miss Marion Turpie of New Orleans scored a 79 to be the first medalist to break 80. At Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1950 Miss Mary Lena Faulk of Thomasville, Georgia scored a 69 to be the first medalist below 70. Lowest medalist honor of 66 is shared by Mrs. Gordon Street, Jr. (Judy Eller), of Chattanooga at Chattanooga CC in 1965 and Miss Stacy Lewis of Woodlands, TX at Riverchase CC in 2006. Since 1935, when Katherine Hemphill of Columbia, S.C., fired a 79 at Louisville, Kentucky, no medalist has been out of the 70’s. Through the years, the WSGA has had many Curtis Cup team members and captains. Numerous players have also moved on to the pro ranks.
The ladies who have affixed their name to the Championship Cup more than twice are few, Mrs Marion Turpie Lake of New Orleans and Miss Robin Weiss of Palm Beach have duplicated Miss Alexa Sterling’s triple win. Mrs Dave Gaut of Memphis won four times and Miss Beth Barry of Mobile, Alabama has won five times. Miss Polly Riley of Fort Worth, Texas holds the record with six wins.
The Scholarship fund for deserving female golfers residing in the 15 Southern states and the District of Columbia saw its beginning in 1971 when Miss Hollis Stacy was awarded assistance to compete in the USGA Junior Championship. In 1973 the first actual Scholarship Award was to Miss Martha Jones (Mrs. Ken Lang) of Decatur, Alabama.