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The Women’s Titleholders golf tournament was considered the ‘Women’s Masters’

AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- The first Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA) tournament was 6 years ago, but it wasn’t the first women’s championship in Augusta.

For 30 years a women’s professional golf tournament was held at the Augusta Country Club and was considered the companion to the Masters Tournament.

It was called ‘The Women’s Titleholders’ and it started before the LPGA was formed. The first ‘Titleholders’ tournament was held in 1937 and the LPGA wasn’t started until 1950.

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It was held during a time when there weren’t many female golfers. The first tournament only had 16 players and 6 of them were amateurs.

<em>Laura Coble, women’s amateur golfer and Georgia Golf Hall of Famer.</em>
Laura Coble, women’s amateur golfer and Georgia Golf Hall of Famer.

“Augusta and Augusta Country Club has a deep, deep history of women’s golf with the Titleholders,” said Laura Coble, women’s amateur golfer and Georgia Golf Hall of Famer.

Coble has been playing golf at the Augusta Country Club all of her life. Growing up there and seeing the history of women’s golf at the club made her want to play the game.

“I saw Louise Suggs give a clinic out on our range one time when I was a child and growing up as a teenager over here and was just fascinated how talent and how she can make the ball do things that I’d never seen before,” Coble explained.

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Louise Suggs was a 4 time winner of the Women’s Titleholder and one of 13 co founders of the LPGA.
Even though the Titleholders was a pro tournament, Suggs was still able to play even as an amateur.

“And they allowed amateurs to play as well. So our own member, Eileen Stulb, played in it and was a big part of that event too. Obviously being local,” said Coble.

Starting in the 40’s, the winner of each tournament would receive a light green jacket. This tradition began before the Masters Tournament started doing it in 1949.

<em>Mickey Wright, a co-founder of the LPGA, won 2 consecutive Women’s Titleholders championships in 1961 and 1962.</em>
Mickey Wright, a co-founder of the LPGA, won 2 consecutive Women’s Titleholders championships in 1961 and 1962.

“It was really unique because it was here in Augusta,” Coble said. “And obviously had the tie to what they called it as the ladies Masters with the green jacket. And so it’s just really neat to have it here.”

Coble told NewsChannel 6 that to make the tournament successful, the golfers themselves had to work hard to keep it going.

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“The players, they all got together and they organized the schedule. They took care of the media requests or any kind of– they made sure that they had–purse money was raised.”

The Titleholders remained a prestigious tournament for nearly 3 decades. The last Titleholders Championship in Augusta was held in 1966.

Coble credits the women of the Titleholders for inspiring her in a sport she is passionate about.

“I love it. Well, I love the camaraderie, the friendship and the competition for me.”

Even though the original Titleholders tournament isn’t played anymore, the LPGA now owns the rights to the ‘Titleholders’ name. It’s now a fixture on the women’s tour..

Photojournalist: Dania Alawir.

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