US Senior Women's Open, Golf's New Major Championship

Chicago Golf Club's 15th green and clubhouse
Chicago Golf Club is the site of the inaugural US Senior Women's Open tournament in 2018. David Alexander/Getty Images

The U.S. Senior Women's Open Championship joined the roster of USGA championships beginning in 2018. It is the 14th championship tournament operated by the United States Golf Association. The USGA, after years of lobbying by top women golfers and fans of women's golf, made the announcement on Feb. 7, 2015 of this event's creation. (The men's U.S. Senior Open has existed since 1980.)

Format and Field Size

The U.S. Senior Women's Open consists of 72 holes of stroke play, 18 holes per day over four days. The tournament is walking-only (no carts). The field begins with 120 golfers and is cut after 36 holes to the low 50 scorers (including ties). A playoff, if necessary, is two holes, aggregate score (with sudden death to follow if the golfers remain tied).

Eligibility and Qualifying

As with all USGA open championships, golfers earn places in the U.S. Senior Women's Open through a combination of qualifying tournaments and exemptions from qualifying. The schedule of sectional qualifiers begins on June 4 and runs through June 26.

The 2018 tournament is open to any professional or amateur golfer who is 50 years of age as of July 12, 2018, and, in the case of amateurs, has a handicap index not exceeding 7.4.

2020 U.S. Senior Women's Open

  • When: July 9-12, 2020
  • Where: Brooklawn Country Club, in Fairfield, Conn.

2019 U.S. Senior Women's Open

On the strength of back-to-back 69s in the second and third rounds, Helen Alfredsson carded a two-stroke victory at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C. Alfredsson won seven times in her career on the LPGA Tour, including one major: the 1993 Nabisco Dinah Shore. But she had not previously won a USGA championship. She finished at 1-over 285. Tied for second were Trish Johnson and Juli Inkster. Final Scores

2018 U.S. Senior Women's Open

The first-ever winner of the U.S. Senior Women's Open was Laura Davies, who ran away with the championship in 2018. Davies shot 66-68 in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, to finish at 16-under 276. That was a full 10 strokes better than the runner-up, Juli Inkster. Trish Johnson was in third place at 4-under, and Danielle Ammaccapane, at 1-under, was the only other golfer to finish under par. Final Scores

Why Did the USGA Add a US Senior Women's Open?

Because it's long overdue! The U.S. Senior Open (the one the men play) has been around since 1980. That's a 38-year head start by the time the Senior Women's Open finally arrives in 2018.

Plus, the USGA operates two versions of each of its championships — a men's tournament and women's tournament — for every other event it stages. The U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open, the Amateur and Women's Amateur, the Boys Junior and Girls Junior, and so on for every championship except the Senior Open, which doesn't have a women's counterpart ... until the inaugural playing in 2018, that is.

So, finally, the best 50-plus women golfers in the United States and around the world will have a major championship of their own.

It's Also a Boost for the Legends Tour

The Legends Tour is a senior tour for women golfers and is the official senior tour of the LPGA. Golfers must be 45 or older to compete on the Legends Tour, which was founded in 2000 by former LPGA star Jane Blalock.

The Legends Tour has muddled along for most of that time period, staging only a handful of tournaments per year (many years only 4-5 at most), playing mostly 36-hole events. The tour has seen an uptick in recent years: In 2015 there were eight tournaments on the schedule; in 2017, six. The LPGA created the Senior LPGA Championship, and the seniors also now play the Solheim Cup-style Handa Cup.

With a U.S. Senior Women's Open coming in 2018, we should see more of the best LPGA golfers who are entering their late 40s (and those already in their 50s) start putting more effort into practicing, and start playing more Legends Tour events. Many of them already do, of course, but the Legends Tour should see an increase in both quality and quantity as a result of the creation of the U.S. Senior Women's Open.

Future Sites and Dates for the US Senior Women's Open

The first U.S. Women's Senior Open in 2018 is to be played in July; the second, in 2019, in May. What this tells us is that the USGA has not yet settled on a section of the calendar during which this championship will annually be played. So far, only the first and second editions of this tournament have sites and dates. The 2018 event info is listed above.

  • 2019: May 16-19 at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, Southern Pines, N.C.
  • 2020: July 9-12 at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn.