Apr 30, 2013

Miss Georgianna Bishop, The Connecticut Golf Girl Who Won at Merion

Georgianna Bishop
In just a few weeks the 2013 U.S. Open Championship will tee off at one of the country's most iconic golf courses.

Merion Golf Club is a National Historic Landmark and its East Course... where a hand-woven, red wicker basket tops each pin... has hosted the Open four times.

The scene of some of golf's most memorable moments, fans of the sport tend to associate Merion with names like Hogan, Jones, Trevino and Nicklaus. Few, however, connect Merion with Georgianna Bishop.

Miss Bishop, who can be observed in photos wearing ankle length skirts and swinging hickory shafted mashies, was a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and in 1904 she won the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship at Merion.

Yesterday, the USGA launched usopen.com, the official website of the 113th U.S. Open.  The site contains myriad interactive features to provide live video, real-time scores, news and highlights throughout the championship. In addition there's a wealth of content on the rich history of Merion  and its past champions. That's where I encountered Georgianna Bishop for the first time, because despite my own Connecticut origins and my interest in women's competitive golf, I was unfamiliar with this inspiring lady golfer until now.

Georgianna Millington Bishop was born in Bridgeport in 1878 and played for Brooklawn Country Club.  Having taken place before there was an LPGA... before the advent of professional golf for women... Bishop nonetheless managed to carve out an impressive place for herself in CT golf history. Though she never again won the national championship, for a period she dominated women's golf in the nutmeg state. Winning the Connecticut Women's Amateur four times between 1920 and 1927, Georgianna Bishop was inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 1959.

The USGA's Rhonda Glenn has written a wonderfully evocative account of Bishop's win at Merion, that I'd highly recommend to anyone interested in golf history and the early days of what was then known as Merion Cricket Club.