Who Is the Curtis Cup Named After?

The Curtis Cup is the name of the biennial golf tournament that pits teams of women amateurs representing Great Britain & Ireland and the United States. It has been played since 1932. (View the results of every Curtis Cup match ever played.) But who put the "Curtis" in Curtis Cup? Why is the competition named that?

The "Curtis" in Curtis Cup comes from a pair of American sisters who were early golf champions and advocates of an international competition. Those sisters were Margaret Curtis and Harriot Curtis.

Harriot Curtis and Margaret Curtis were two of the best women golfers in the early days of organized women's tournament play in the United States. The Curtis family was prominent in Massachussetts in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Their father had been a Union Cavalry officer in the Civil War; a brother had served in the Taft Administration as United States Secretary of the Treasury. And one of the sisters' cousins, Laurence Curtis, was one of the earliest presidents of the USGA.

The Curtis sisters were members of Essex County Club in Manchester, Mass., their hometown. Harriot won the 1906 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship. In the finals of the 1907 Women's Am, Margaret defeated Harriot, then Margaret won again in 1911-12.

The Curtis sisters were among a group of eight American women who traveled to play in the 1905 British Ladies Amateur Championship. While there, the Americans and a team of British women played an informal team match. That event sowed the seeds, leading the Curtis sisters and others on both sides of the Atlantic to lobby for a formal USA vs. GB&I team competition.

There were many starts and stops over the next couple decades as interest remained, but funds were lacking. In 1927, hoping to spur the USGA and Ladies Golf Union (LGU) to establish such a competition, Harriot and Margaret commissioned the creation of a trophy, a silver cup. (That silver cup was (and is) the literal Curtis Cup.)

It was another five years before the trophy was awarded, however, first presented at the 1932 Curtis Cup, the inaugural edition.

Margaret died in 1965 and Harriot in 1974. The 1938 Curtis Cup and 2010 Curtis Cup were both played at the Curtis sisters' club, Essex County Club.

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