The USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship was inaugurated in 1962 for women golfers age 50 and older.
By the late 1950s, a number of senior women’s golf organizations had been formed, principally to conduct tournaments, but there was no existing tournament to determine the national champion. The USGA was requested to step in, and in January 1962, the Executive Committee approved such a competition.
In its own quiet way, senior women’s golf has flourished over the years.
Several major competitions have sprung up throughout the country, and with the expansion of women’s golf, the number of quality senior players has increased dramatically. Many women, aged 50 and over, for the first time find they have the requisite time for top-level competitive golf. Additionally, some of the nation’s finest amateurs have advanced into this age group and still seek to test their talent and experience on a championship level. Many women who enter these competitions also have been instrumental in the development of women’s golf in this country, encouraging younger players, and conducting tournaments at all levels.
The first Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, in 1962, at the Manufacturer’s Golf and Country Club in Oreland, Pa., was a stroke-play showdown of two longtime rivals. Maureen Orcutt, a four-time Curtis Cup player, finished with a 54-hole score of 240, seven strokes ahead of Glenna Collett Vare. In the 1920s and 1930s, Vare reigned as this country’s finest woman player with a record six victories in the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Great players of the past have thus far dominated the Senior Women’s Amateur. Carolyn Cudone, another former Curtis Cup team member, won the championship five times in succession between 1968 and 1972.
Dorothy Porter won four Senior Women’s Amateur championships and is one of only four players to have also captured the U.S. Women’s Amateur. In 1993, Anne Sander, the Women’s Amateur champion in 1958, 1961 and 1963, won her fourth Senior Women’s Amateur.
Marlene Stewart Streit, U.S. Women’s Amateur champion in 1956, won the Senior Women’s Amateur in 1985, 1994 and 2003, and was runner-up a record five times. The 47-year span between Streit’s first and last USGA titles is the longest among all USGA champions.
Carol Semple Thompson won the 1973 Women’s Amateur and the 1990 and 1997 Women’s Mid-Amateur, and captured her fourth consecutive Senior Women’s Amateur title in 2002.
After 35 years of a stroke-play format, the 1997 championship became the first Senior Women’s Amateur to be conducted at match play. It was the last of the 10 national amateur championships to adopt a match-play format.