Ladies’ First: The Black Women Of The Historic Chicago Women’s Golf Club

Vintage photo of the Chicago Women’s Golf Club

With clubs and courses popping up in what seems like each and every suburban neighborhood – a staple of sorts — the state of the golf industry is extremely positive. In fact, according to Pete Bevacqua, CEO of the PGA of America, “a total of 2.2 million people took up the game last year, approaching the record of 2.4 million, set at the peak of Tiger Woods’ popularity.”

Traditionally considered a ‘boy’s club’ pastime for the wealthy, the ladies of the Chicago Women’s Golf Club – the only active African American women’s golf club in the nation – paved the way for Black women golfers, creating both a diverse voice and outlet for like-minded women who love the game.

“The Chicago Women’s Golf Club was founded in 1937 by three ladies. At a time where golfing for African Americans was not a thing especially not for women,” Ciji Henderson, president of the Chicago Women’s Golf Club, told ABC 7.

It’s that very longevity – a whopping 80 years in service – that club member Ernestine Harper says is worth celebrating. “The importance is that we have been around. Black women have been playing golf, these ladies played golf in the 20s before the club was organized with their husbands. But golf has been an important part in our society.”