Iron Women

Iron Women explores the extraordinary history of women’s golf in Scotland. From the early pioneers of the eighteenth century, to formidable role models who challenged the patriarchal constraints of male dominated golfing arenas, this story celebrates the trailblazers who put Scottish women’s golf firmly on the world map.

Broadcast on BBC ALBA in 2021.

Women’s golf in Scotland has a remarkable history of tenaciousness and talent. The story begins in the 18thcentury in Musselburgh, with recorded evidence of fishwives playing golf and competing for the prize of a creel and silk handkerchiefs. The game gathered momentum among the Victorian ladies of St Andrews from 1863, albeit under the watchful gaze of husbands and fathers who controlled the spaces women frequented, and how they used them. Transgressors such as Issette Pearson and Agnes Grainger developed strategies to create opportunities for women and thanks to their determination the Ladies Golf Union and the Scottish Ladies Golf Association were formed in 1893 and 1904, formalising the sport and creating competition, and fundamentally, a handicap system before men. Formidable golfers emerged, with several Scots leading the way at home and abroad. While the pioneer players were successful in increasing the visibility of women in golf, they still battled resistance with controls in play that restricted access to courses, clubs and career development. From the early heroes of Edith Orr, Dorothy Campbell and Charlotte Beddows, to Jessie Valentine, Jean Donald and Belle Robertson, women have played towards a fairer way for Scotland’s so called ‘fairer-sex’, creating a remarkable history in the process.

This one-hour documentary film tells the story of women’s golf in Scotland from its earliest beginnings through to the impact of the Equalities Act in 2010. Iron Women draws on testimony from professional, amateur and county champions, as well as academics and those working in golfing administration. The film seeks to understand how women’s golf evolved and what barriers were overcome in the journey towards a more equitable space for women in the sport. As well as testimony, the film includes commissioned art work, archive interviews and golf match action and drama reconstruction sequences featuring some of the pioneers of women’s golf.

Featuring interviews with an array of talented Scottish golfers, archive testimony and action footage alongside drama reconstructions.


Writer / Producer / Director: Margot McCuaig

Filmed: Gavin Hopkins

Editor: Kenny Park

Narrator: Alex O’Henley