The Isle of Wight Ladies’ Golf Association (originally known as The Isle of Wight Ladies’ Golf Championship) was founded in 1897. On Saturday 20 March that year a meeting was held at 2 Vernon Square in Ryde. It was attended by 35 ladies, 24 of whom were members of the Isle of Wight Ladies’ Golf Club at Bembridge and the remaining 11 were from the Ladies’ branch of the Needles and Freshwater Golf Clubs. They gathered to create an Isle of Wight Ladies’ Championship and to draw up a trust deed to cover the details required to run such an event. Each lady present had already made a donation to pay for the proposed trophy, ranging from one guinea to 2/6d, and a total of £18.17.00 was raised. The thid resolution of the trust deed really stated the aim of these founding ladies: that the trophy shall be offered every year for competition among duly qualified lady golfers in the Isle of Wight and that the winner shall be considered and recognised as the Lady Golf Champion of the Island.
When travelling conditions are taken into account one cannot help but admire the tenacity and determination of the Island’s lady golfeers at the end of the nineteenth centure. The Isle of Wight County Press records that there were 22 entries at the inaugural championship meeting on Monday, 26 April 1897, when Miss Henry defeated Mrs Wingfield Stratford in the final.
Over the years, despite some wartime and other gaps, changes to the structure of the Island Championship and the introduction of other competitions evolved. 1957, Diamond Jubilee Year, saw the birth of the IWLGA Foursomes League – the brainchild of a Mrs Eaton and a brilliant concept and as tough a foursomes competition as it is possible to conceive for a group of clubs in round robin format. League tables formulated in 1984 by Miss V Foster, IWLGA Hon Secretary, were introduced to further improve the IWLGA Foursomes League. Although there had been a President since 1928, it was not until 1958 that the first Captain of the IWLGA was elected. It was agreed then that the IWLGA Captaincy would rotate annually to each club in alphabetical order.
In 1972 revised rules of the IWLGA were printed and these form the basis of the way the Association still runs today. The Association has gone from strength to strength and now awards some 16 trophies annually. We might find ourselves today delayed by slow moving traffic as we journey to our IWLGA fixtures, but we are very thankful that those original 35 lady golfers travelled with such determination to Ryde in 1897 and had the vision to create an Isle of Wight Association.
The centenary publication A History of the IWLGA 1897-1997 is a thoroughly researched and presented account of the Association from its beginnings, tirelessly compiled by Mrs Di Nobbs and Mrs June Weeks. A Ten Years On update became available in 2007, thanks again to the work of Di and June. Over many years they, and a good few others, have not only enjoyed their own Island golf but have worked very hard to ensure that we know and appreciate our foundations and history. They are wonderful successors to our founding ladies and firm stepping stones on the IWLGA’s journey through its next hundred years.