The R&A - Working for Golf

Golf not the only contest at Espirito Santo

For the women competing in Mexico this week, the Espirito Santo Trophy is not the only contest they want to win. Finding new and innovative ways to proudly display their nation’s colours as they take to the golf course is a custom the top female players of the world have practiced for decades.

At the Olympics in August, more colourful crests, emblems and motifs were emblazoned across the golfers’ clothing and equipment than ever before. But the tradition may never have grown so popular if it wasn’t for the early editions of the World Amateur Team Championships - and a fascination with pin badges.

Lydia Ko nailed her New Zealand look at The Olympics.
New Zealand's Lydia Ko nailed her look at The Olympics.

What began as an invitation by the French Golf Federation in 1964 for the USA Curtis Cup Team to stop off in France for an informal match after that year’s competition in Wales, developed into the Espirito Santo Trophy as we know it today.

The USGA accepted the invitation, but also suggested inviting other nations to create a women’s counterpart to the World Amateur Team Championship. That event for men’s teams had begun in 1958 after an invitation from Japan to establish a match between the two nations.

Team USA take shelter during a practice round earlier this week.
Andrea Lee and Katelyn Dambaugh take shelter under their Team USA umbrella during a practice round earlier this week.

The French were delighted to sponsor the inaugural women’s championship and arranged for it to be played at the St. Germain Golf Club, near Paris, in October 1964. A total of 25 teams and 75 players participated, which instantly established the competition as a member of international golf’s family of championships. Spectator enthusiasm at the first championship was high, since the host team prevailed over the USA by one stroke.

The event, under the chairmanship of Lally Segard, Vicomtesse de Saint-Sauveur, was a regarded a triumph as the women of the amateur game embraced the chance to represent their country. Traditions were born from the coming together of so many nations, and one that can still be seen today is the competitor’s love of custom-made brooches as part of their team uniform.

Isabelle Boineau of France shows off her team spirit at the Espirito Santo Trophy in 2006.
Isabelle Boineau of France shows off her team spirit at the Espirito Santo Trophy in 2006.

What began as an invitation by the French Golf Federation in 1964 for the USA Curtis Cup Team to stop off in France for an informal match after that year’s competition in Wales, developed into the Espirito Santo Trophy as we know it today.

The British Golf Museum possesses a small collection of these precious mementos from various World Amateur Team Championships up to 1972.

Hannah Fleming, Museum & Heritage Assistant Curator, explained how the trinkets ended up in St Andrews, saying: “This collection of pins and brooches was  donated to the museum by an ex-treasurer of the Ladies’ Golf Union (LGU).

“The pins represent different countries in the Espirito Santo competition. So we have some from the home unions like the Scottish thistle, the English rose, the Irish shamrock and the Welsh dragon.

The collection of pin badges were donated to the British Golf Musuem.
The collection of pin badges are from Women's World Amateur Team Championships up to 1972.

“But we also have more from other countries, including a fern pin from New Zealand, four maple- leaf-designed Canadian flags, one from Argentina and a Swedish Golf Federation pin also.

“The players would wear these badges during the tournament and afterwards, as another layer of team spirit.  Often you see in team competitions, particularly in the women’s game, players really showing how proud they are to play for their countries.

Team USA carry on the tradition of wearing pin badges at the 2016 opening ceremony.
Team USA carry on the pin badge tradition at the 2016 opening ceremony.

“In other competitions like the Solheim Cup and the Curtis Cup we see women dressed in all the colours, with flags emblazoned on their uniforms, and with matching accessories like the brooches – it shows a further sense of pride in their country.”

To follow updates and more information on the Women’s World Amateur Team Championships taking place in Cancun, Mexico from 14 -17 September, please visit the IGF website www.igfgolf.org/watc.