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

USGA championship for 50-and-older women launches in 2018

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 joins the roster of USGA championships beginning in 2018. It will be 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.

2018 U.S. Senior Women's Open

  • When: July 12-15
  • Where: Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Ill.
  • Tickets: Ticket information will be available beginning in 2018. At that time, fans can sisit usga.org/seniorwomensopen for information.

    Chicago Golf Club is the oldest golf course in the United States that has been in continuous operation at the same location. Founded in 1893, it was one of the five original clubs that got together to form the USGA. For the U.S. Senior Women's Open, Chicago Golf Club will be set up at 6,082 yards and a par of 73.

    The most-recent USGA championship played at Chicago Golf Club is the 2005 Walker Cup, won by Team USA over Team Great Britain & Ireland by a score of 12.5 to 11.5.

    Golfers Exempt from Qualifying for 2018 US Senior Women's Open

    The USGA has announced 18 exemption categories for the U.S. Senior Women's Open, and golfers meeting any one of those criteria are exempt from having to play their way into the tournament through sectional qualifying.

    The golfers who have those exemptions are:

    Alice Miller
    Alicia Dibos
    Alison Nicholas
    Amy Alcott
    Anne Quast Sander
    Ayako Okamoto
    Barb Mucha
    Barbara McIntire
    Barbara Moxness
    Becky Iverson
    Beth Daniel
    Betsy King
    Betsy Rawls
    Betty Burfeindt
    Carol Mann
    Carol Semple Thompson
    Carolyn Hill
    Catherine Lacoste
    Cathy Johnston-Forbes
    Cathy Sherk
    Chako Higuchi
    Christa Johnson
    Cindy Figg-Currier
    Cindy Hill
    Cindy Rarick
    Dale Eggeling
    Danielle Ammaccapane
    Deb Richard
    Donna Andrews
    Donna Caponi
    Donna Horton White
    Dottie Pepper
    Ellen Port
    Gloria Ehret
    Helen Alfredsson
    Hiromi Kobayashi
    Hollis Stacy
    Jan Stephenson
    Jane Crafter
    Jane Geddes
    Janet Alex Anderson
    Jean Ashley Crawford
    Jean Bartholomew
    Jenny Lidback
    Jerilyn Britz
    JoAnne Carner
    Joanne Pacillo
    Jody Anschutz
    Joyce Ziske
    Judith Kyrinis
    Judy Dickinson
    Judy Kimball Simon
    Juli Inkster
    Kathy Baker Guadagnino
    Kathy Cornelius
    Kathy Whitworth
    Kay Cockerill
    Kelly Robbins
    Kim Saiki-Maloney
    Kris Tschetter
    Kristi Albers
    Laura Baugh
    Laura Davies
    Lauri Merten
    Laurie Rinker
    Lisa Grimes
    Liselotte Neumann
    Lorie Kane
    Macarena Campomanes Eguiguren
    Marilyn Lovander
    Marilynn Smith
    Marlene Hagge
    Marlene Stewart Streit
    Martha Kirouac
    Martha Nause
    Mary Budke
    Mary Lou Dill
    Mary Mills
    Meg Mallon
    Michele Redman
    Mickey Wright
    Murle Lindstrom
    Nanci Bowen
    Nancy Lopez
    Nancy Scranton
    Pat Bradley
    Pat O’Sullivan Lucey
    Patricia Lesser Harbottle
    Patty Sheehan
    Pearl Sinn
    Rosie Jones
    Sally Little
    Sandra Haynie
    Sandra Palmer
    Sandra Post
    Sherri Steinhauer
    Sherri Turner
    Shirley Englehorn
    Sue Wooster
    Susie Berning
    Tammie Green
    Terrill Samuel
    Tina Barrett
    Trish Johnson
    Val Skinner

    Important note: Many of the golfers above will not play the tournament, perhaps even most of them. Why? Some of them are in their 70s or even 80s; some haven't played competitive tournament golf in years or even decades. This is merely the list of those who are exempt from qualifying.

    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 U.S. Senior Women's Open

    • When: May 16-19
    • Where: Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, Southern Pines, N.C.