The Association (or County Club as it was then called) was formed in 1901 by representatives of Burnham, Bath and Weston-super-Mare clubs so that Somerset ladies could join in the County Championship which the LGU had instituted in 1899. It is interesting to note that Somerset men took until 1907 to form a similar County Union! We have never won the championship but have taken part in it every year since then when it has been played, and we reached the “county finals” many times in the thirties, late forties and fifties. At first there were only 32 members from the 3 clubs interested in playing for the county, but numbers soon grew as the game became fashionable and popular. Now there are 28 affiliated clubs and well over 2,000 members.
We have had many great players in Somerset, starting with Miss Hilda Evans of Weston who played for England in 1908
for England in 1908.
Our own County Championships were started in 1913, the highest number of titles - 7 - being
notched up by Miss Dolly Fowler between 1921 and 1936.
Beverley New and Karen Nicholls have both won it 5 times. England honours have also gone to
Phyllis Lobbett, Lady Catherine Cairns, Ruth and Pip Barry and of course Bev New who turned pro but
is back with us now as an amateur and captained the England side in the Home Internationals in 2004.
Distinguished administrators of the game at national level include Lady Catherine, Lucy Barlow and Naomi Buchanan, our President in 2003-4.
So much has changed for lady golfers since SLCGA was founded, the clothes they wore (fancy playing in corsets, stiff collars, pancake hats and full length skirts!), the equipment available and the discrimination they had to put up with in all the older “members’ clubs”. But on the other hand many of the courses are the same as in 1901, the Rules of Golf haven’t changed all that much, and we still have the same sort of competitions and matches between clubs. The Rogers Cup was presented in 1924, and the latest inter club trophy, the Centenary Plate, in 2001.
There was a great wave of golf course building in the 1880’s, and again in the 1980’s, this latter period giving us 12 splendid new privately owned 18 hole courses, and several 9 hole ones as well. Equality with men members is the norm now, thank goodness, in Somerset clubs.
1937 County Finals
Lady Catherine 2nd from left, back row Dolly 3rd from left.