Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died peacefully at her summer home, Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on Thursday. She was 96.
From her accession to the throne at the age of 25 until her death on Thursday, the Queen was part of the golfing world, even though she was not a golfer herself.
“Following her accession in 1952, Her late Majesty graciously accepted the patronage of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, as has been the custom of reigning monarchs since HM King William IV in 1834,” The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews said in a tribute statement.
The sport of golf looked very different when Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor began her reign.
From 1949, when she was still a princess, to 1954, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan dominated the post-World War II men’s golf scene. Meanwhile, 13 women co-founded the LPGA in 1950; The tour replaced the Women’s Professional Golf Association. The legendary Frances Ouimet became the first American captain at The R&A a year before Elizabeth succeeded her late father. The US Open was not nationally televised for the first time until 1954, two years after her coronation.
The late Arnold Palmer, who died in September 2016, first won his first professional victory in 1955 at the Canadian Open during his rookie season. Three years later, in 1958, Amen Corner was born when Palmer won the Masters for the first time; Sports Illustrated golf writer Herbert Warren Wind came up with the name for the famous stretch of holes — Nos. 11, 12 and 13 at Augusta National — that year.
Since then, the world of golf has undergone a seemingly constant and rapid evolution in light of the technological boom of the late 20th and early 21st centuries – graphite shafts didn’t even hit the course until the 1970s.
Queen Elizabeth reigned from the days of Snead, Palmer and Nicklaus to the glory years of Tiger Woods, and even through the golf revolution today.
Knights and dames of the Gulf
During her reign, the Queen awarded four knighthoods to notable players.
A knighthood is awarded to notable citizens who have achieved significant achievements – in this case extended beyond civilian and military wartime conduct. They are inducted into the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
The reigning monarch is the order’s sovereign and oversees all appointments with the advice and recommendations of his government.
Those knighted during Elizabeth II’s reign were:
- Sir Henry Cotton (1988): Considered the leading British player of his generation, Cotton won The Open in 1934, ’37 and ’48. Cotton accepted the knighthood before his death in 1987 and it was made effective from the date of his death, despite being formally awarded in the 1988 New Year Honours.
- Sir Bob Charles (1999): The first left-hander to win a golf major, the 1963 Open, the New Zealander won more than 70 worldwide titles and beat his age twice at 71. He is now 86.
- Sir Nick Faldo (2009): The former world No. 1 won six majors, including three Open Championships. After his retirement, Faldo was a golf analyst for several networks, including the Golf Channel, until he retired from the booth at the conclusion of the 2022 PGA Tour regular season.
- Dame Laura Davies (2014): Considered Britain’s most accomplished female player, Davies is still active on the LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour, which she played in 1988 and 1985 respectively. She was the first golfer, male or female, to win tournaments on five continents in one year. She owns four major titles.
A new patron ascends the throne
The Queen’s son, Charles, will henceforth be known as King Charles III as he takes on the mantle he has held throughout his life, becoming the oldest monarch in British history at 73.
As has been the custom of the reigning monarch since 1834, Charles is expected to become the next patron of The R&A. The eldest of four children born to Queen Elizabeth and her late husband Prince Philip, Charles is said to be an occasional participant in the game.