The R&A has quietly axed the Ladies' British Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship from its schedule and introduced a new Girls U-16 Open Championship.
First played in 1969 at Northumberland Golf Club, it was won by Mary McKenna at Moseley in 1979 and most recently by Irish golfers Danielle McVeigh from Royal County Down Ladies' at Royal Aberdeen in 2009 and Slieve Russell's Leona Maguire at Royal Ashdown Forest in 2011.
This season, Lurgan's Annabel Wilson tied for second behind Sweden's Linn Grant at North Berwick.
"With an increasingly crowded schedule in late summer for the leading women’s amateurs, it has been decided to concentrate resources on developing the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship which is played in June and attracts a world class field," the R&A said at the foot of a press release to announce that it is introducing a new amateur championship for junior girl golfers instead.
The inaugural Girls Under-16s Open Championship, which will be played at Fulford, near York, from April 27-29 is "part of The R&A’s drive to boost the girls’ game in Great Britain and Ireland and is designed to provide a clear pathway through to the elite amateur level for leading young players."
The R&A confirmed that 90 young golfers from countries around the world will tee it up on one of England’s most highly regarded golf courses when the 54-hole stroke play championship takes place in spring next year.
Fulford, hosting an event organised by The R&A for the first time in its history, enjoys a prestigious reputation as a championship venue having staged European Tour events for many years.
It was the host of the first ever Women’s British Open when Jenny Lee Smith won the championship in 1976.
It has also hosted several amateur events including the European Ladies Team Championship in 2013.
Duncan Weir, Executive Director – Golf Development at The R&A, said, “We are introducing a new championship for junior girls to help create a pathway for young amateur golfers to further their development by playing competitive golf in a world class environment.
“There is clearly a need to provide more opportunity for young girls to compete at the top level and this event will be an important and valuable addition to the amateur golf calendar.”
Online entries for the inaugural event will open in February 2018 and can be submitted via www.randa.org/championships.