The first “golf girl” may have been Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary was born in Scotland in 1542 and is said to have played golf as a teenager in France. She definitely played when she returned to Scotland. The ill-fated Queen is remembered best for showing bad form when at age 27 she was seen playing “in the fields beside Seton” a few days after the murder of her second husband, Lord Darnley.
Unfortunately, in1586, after a long period of “match play” with her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, Mary lost her head! A rather poor start for women’s golf.
Women’s golf, however, does carry at least one historical literary distinction.
The first golf poetry book published in the U.S. in 1899 was called The Golf Girl by Samuel M. Peck (1854-1939), Alabama’s first poet laureate. This slim book of 15 pages included four illustrations by Maud Humphrey, Humphrey Bogart’s mother. Though Mr. Peck’s poetry calls into question the standards used to select a poet laureate, the book itself is quite valuable. The copy shown above was sold by the PBA Galleries in 2002 for $2300.
Here, without comment, is the last stanza from “A Lucky Drive,” one of the seven poems in Peck’s book.
With woman’s art she kept it off—
My wooing—till we went to golf;
But when the breeze tossed a curl
That mocked and becked—with brain a-whirl
I drove away,
And won that day
Life’s dearest prize, my golfing girl.
But at least by 1899 women were playing the game. In 1833, George F. Carnegie (1800-1851), a St. Andrews golfer and poet, published a poem called “The Golfiad” that included these five lines,
The game is ancient—manly—and employs,
In its departments, women, men, and boys:
Men play the game, the boys the clubs convey,
And lovely woman gives the prize away,
When August brings the great, the medal day!
Your comments are welcome as always.