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
The Championship trophy began in 1925 as a
The Marguerite Gaut Trophy awarded to the
senior medalist, started as a senior prize in 1948 and became a perpetual
trophy in 1953.
The Riely Eakin Memorial Trophy, a
perpetual trophy began in 1968 is awarded the low net qualifier.
The Marty Webb Junior Medalist Trophy
began in 1978 as a perpetual trophy awarded to a contestant who has not reached
her 18th birthday before the end of the championship.
The Team Trophy is a perpetual trophy
awarded for combined low gross scores of two qualifiers from the same club.
The Evelyn Monsted Trophy began in 2007;
a perpetual trophy awarded the contestant with the lowest qualifying score.
SENIOR CHAMPIONHIP TROPHIES
The Katherine Graham Senior Trophy began in
1986 as a perpetual trophy.
Senior Trophy began in 1989 as a perpetual trophy.