Royal and Ancient names first female members

2015 02 Royal And Ancient Gc
• Seven women accept invitations to become honorary members
• Princess Royal, Laura Davies & Annika Sorenstam amongst those
• 'This is an historic day for the club... we could not be more proud'


Almost five months after it reversed its male-only membership policy, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has revealed the identities of its first honorary female members.

Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, Dame Laura Davies and Annika Sorenstam are joined by Renee Powell, Belle Robertson, Louise Suggs and Lally Segard in joining the famous institution.

Announcing the news, George Macgregor, the captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, commented: “It is an honour and a privilege for The Royal and Ancient Golf Club to welcome these remarkable women as honorary members.
In September, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club’s members voted by an 85% majority to admit women as members for the first time.

“This is an historic day for the club and we could not be more proud also to welcome women who have distinguished themselves in golf over many years and have been great players and champions. They are extremely worthy additions to our roll of honorary members and will become ambassadors for the club as they have been for the sport of golf throughout their careers.”

Reserving a special mention for the Princess Royal, Macgregor added: “The Princess Royal enjoys a strong bond with Scotland and has shown great energy and commitment to developing sport through her work in the Olympic movement.”

Sandown Races

The Queen’s only daughter, above, follows her father, the Duke of Edinburgh, her brother, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Kent, the Queen’s cousin, in becoming an honorary member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

In September, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club’s members voted by an 85% majority to admit women as members for the first time in its 260-year history. Today’s announcement follows that historic ballot and, in addition to the honorary members, a number of women have been admitted as members of the club with more set to follow in the coming months.

More on the Royal and Ancient's first female members

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Dame Laura Davies, is widely regarded as Britain’s greatest female golfer having won four major championships and 79 events around the world. She won the Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale in 1986 and the US Women’s Open in 1987. She played in every Solheim Cup match from 1990 to 2011 and is the leading all-time points scorer. A former world No.1, Davies, above, was the first non-American to finish at the top of the LPGA money list and also won the LET Order of Merit a record seven times. In 2014, she was appointed DBE for her services to golf and, in July 2015, she will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame at a ceremony in St Andrews.

Renée Powell played in more than 250 events, having joined the LPGA Tour in 1967. In 1979, she became the first woman to be a head professional at a golf course in the UK, at Silvermere, near London. After leaving the LPGA Tour in 1980, she developed inner-city youth golf programmes in the United States and in 1995 became the first African-American female Class ‘A’ member of the PGA of America and the LPGA. In 2003, Renée Powell received the PGA of America’s ‘First Lady of Golf’ award and four years later the inaugural Rolex ‘For the Love of the Game’ award. In 2008, she was made an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) by the University of St Andrews.

The great Scottish amateur golfer Belle Robertson won the British Ladies Amateur Championship in 1981 and the Scottish Ladies Close Amateur Championship on seven occasions. She represented GB&I in seven Curtis Cups and was part of the first team to win the match on American soil in 1986.  She captained the team twice. Robertson was voted ‘Scottish Sportswoman of the Year’ on four occasions and ‘Woman Golfer of the Year’ three times. In 1973, she was made an MBE for services to golf and was named as one of the 50 inaugural members of the Scottish Sport Hall of Fame in 2002.

Lally Segard (née Vagliano) is one of France’s greatest golfers, winning the British Girls’ Championship in 1937 and, as Vicomtesse de Saint-Sauveur, 14 international titles including the British Ladies’ Amateur in 1950. As president of the Women’s Committee of the World Amateur Golf Council (now the International Golf Federation), she helped found the Espirito Santo Trophy, the women’s World Amateur Team Championship. She was France’s non-playing captain from the inaugural event in 1964 until 1972. Segard is an Officer of France’s National Order of Merit and a Commander of the Order of Sporting Merit.

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One of the most successful golfers in history, Annika Sorenstam, above, is a former world No.1 who won 89 events around the world, including ten major championships. She won the ‘Rolex Player of the Year’ award on eight occasions and represented Europe in the Solheim Cup eight times between 1994 and 2007, before serving as vice-captain for the victorious European side in 2011 and 2013. Annika Sorenstam was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003 and retired from competitive golf in 2008 to focus on establishing the Annika Academy and the Annika Foundation, which support aspiring junior golfers.

Louise Suggs, a co-founder and former president of the LPGA, won the US Women’s Amateur in 1947 and the British Ladies’ Amateur in 1948, before turning professional and winning 58 events, including 11 major championships. She was an inaugural inductee into the LPGA Hall of Fame, established in 1967, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. The Louise Suggs Rolex ‘Rookie of the Year’ award, given each year to the most accomplished first-year player on the LPGA Tour, is named in her honour. In 2007, she received the Bob Jones Award, given by the USGA in recognition of great sportsmanship in golf.

Your thoughts!

What do you think of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews' first female members? Are there any names missing you would have expected to see? Leave your thoughts in our 'Comments' section below.

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