Women's Major Golf Championships Explained

By Nick Heidelberger

The Chevon Championship celebration

Keeping track of the LPGA majors is no simple task. While the major championship events themselves haven’t changed since 2013, one of the five women’s golf majors got a name change for 2022 – the former ANA Inspiration is now the Chevron Championship – which is enough to cause confusion among the casual fan. Throughout its history, the LPGA has counted eight different championships as majors since 1930. Today, the LPGA Tour has five major championships.

The Chevron Championship

2022 Chevron Championship

March 28 - April 3 (Mission Hills CC, Rancho Mirage, Calif.)

Defending Champion

Patty Tavatanakit

Major Since

1983

Inaugural Event

1972

Wins Leader

Amy Alcott (3, 1983, ‘88, ‘91); Betsy King (1987, ‘90, ‘97); Annika Sorenstam (3, 2001, ‘02, ‘05)

Host Organization

LPGA


If you don’t instantly recognize the Chevron Championship as a women’s golf major, that’s OK, give it time. Throughout its tournament life, the event has also been known as the ANA Inspiration, Kraft Nabisco Championship, Nabisco Championship, Nabisco Dinah Shore, Nabisco Dinah Shore Invitational, Colgate-Dinah Shore, and the Colgate-Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle. In other words, name changes are part of the tournament’s tradition.

The Chevron Championship

Another tradition, and change, for the tournament, is its home site. Through the 2022 tournament, the Chevron Championship is one of two LPGA majors to have only been contested at one site, as Mission Hills CC has hosted the Chevron Championship since the first edition in 1972. However, as part of Chevron’s partnership, the championship will move to the Houston area beginning in 2023. That could also mean the end of another tradition, the champion’s obligatory leap into Poppie’s Pond.

U.S. Women’s Open

2022 U.S. Women’s Open

June 2-5 (Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, Southern Pines, N.C.)

Defending Champion

Yuka Saso

Major Since

1950

Inaugural Event

1946

Wins Leader

Mickey Wright (4, 1958, ‘59, ‘61, ‘64)

Host Organization

United States Golf Association (USGA)


The U.S. Women’s Open is the longest-standing women’s golf major. The championship has been contested every year since the inaugural match-play event at Spokane Country Club in 1946, which Patty Berg won 5&4 over Betty Jameson. In 1947 the championship pivoted to its current stroke play format, and the U.S. Women’s Open became recognized as a major in 1950.

U.S. Women's Open trophy

In January of 2022, the USGA announced an increase in the U.S. Women’s Open purse from $5.5 million in 2021 to $10 million in 2022. The $5.5 million purse in 2021 was already the largest in women’s golf when Yuka Saso won the $1 million winner’s share, and the financial boost along with the tournament’s long-standing history and stops at America’s most prestigious courses makes the U.S. Women’s Open the most prominent of the five women’s golf majors.

Women’s PGA Championship

2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

June 23-26 (Congressional Blue Course, Bethesda, Md)

Defending Champion

Nelly Korda

Major Since

1955

Inaugural Event

1955

Wins Leader

Mickey Wright (4, 1958, ‘60, ‘61, ‘63)

Host Organization

PGA of America


The Women’s PGA Championship is the second-oldest of the five current women’s golf majors, dating back to 1955. It is also the only current women's golf major to have held "major" status since its inception. That's probably because the tournament was created by the LPGA, which also determines which events are majors.

From 1955 to 2014, the event’s official name included went by some form “ LPGA Championship” with various sponsors included in the title through the years. The event was owned and operated by the LPGA until 2015, when the PGA of America took it over. Since then it has been known as the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Women's PGA Championship

Like the U.S. Women’s Open, the inaugural Women’s PGA Championship was a match-play competition, but adjusted to become a stroke play championship in year two, and has remained that way ever since.

For much of the Women’s PGA Championship history, the tournament settled on long-term host sites. Between 1961 and 2013, only 10 venues hosted the Women’s PGA. However, since 2014, the championship has rotated sites each year. In that time, the championship purse has doubled, from $2.25 million in 2014 to $4.5 million in 2021.

The Evian Championship

2022 Evian Championship

July 21-24 (Evian Resort Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains, France)

Defending Champion

Minjee Lee

Major Since

2013

Inaugural Event

1994

Wins Leader

Helen Alfredsson (3, 1994, ‘98, 2008)

Host Organization

LET & LPGA


The Evian Championship is the youngest of the five LPGA majors, and became the fifth major on the LPGA in 2013, 19 years after the tournament began. Once the Chevron Championship moves in 2023, the Evian will be the only LPGA major to have only been contested at one course, the Evian Resort Golf Club.

Minjee Lee wins Evian Championship

The tournament was known as the Evian Masters from its inception in 1994 until it was elevated to LPGA major status in 2013, when it became the Evian Championship. The tournament began as a Ladies European Tour event and became co-sanctioned by the LPGA in 2000.

While Helen Alfredsson has won the tournament three times, no player has won multiple Evian Championships since the tournament has been counted among the majors. As a 16-year-old amateur, Lydia Ko finished runner-up to Suzann Pettersen in 2013, the first year the Evian was a major. At just 18 years old, Ko won the Evian two years later.

Women’s Open

2022 AIG Women’s Open

August 4-7 (Muirfield, Gullane, UK)

Defending Champion

Anna Nordqvist

Major Since

2001

Inaugural Event

1976

Wins Leader (*major)

Karrie Webb (3, 1995, ‘97, 2002*); Sherri Steinhauer (3, 1998, ‘99, 2006*)

Host Organization

R&A


The AIG Women’s Open, often referred to as the Women’s British Open, has been played since 1976 (with the exception of the 1983 edition, which was canceled), but was only elevated to major status in 2001. Before the R&A merged with the Ladies Golf Union in 2017, the Women’s British Open was organized by the LGU.

Even though the event was created to mirror the Open Championship, the tournament struggled for much of its infancy. In fact, the Women’s British Open didn’t even become a regular LPGA Tour stop until 1994.

Women's Open winner with trophy

Starting in the late 1990’s, more courses on the British Open rota joined Royal Birkdale in hosting the Women’s Open, including Royal Lytham & St. Annes and Turnberry. As the prestige of the Women’s Open grew with its major championship status in the early 2000s, more Open rota courses hosted the Women’s Open as well. In 2007, the Women’s Open was played at St. Andrews for the first time, and the women competed for the event’s first-ever $2 million purse. Since then, the Women’s Open has been contested almost exclusively on courses that also host the Open Championship, including Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Royal Birkdale and Turnberry.

The Former Women’s Golf Majors

While five tournaments call themselves LPGA majors, there are three that have lost that status. At one time or another, the Western Open, Titleholders Championship, and du Maurier Classic were also considered major championships in women’s golf.

du Maurier Classic

The du Maurier Classic was among the LPGA major championship ranks from 1979 to 2000, before it was replaced as an LPGA major by the Women’s British Open.

While the tournament is still contested to this day as the Canadian Women’s Open, it lost its major championship status largely due to Canadian tobacco restrictions. Those restrictions marked the end of Imperial Tobacco Canada’s sponsorship of the event.

Pat Bradley racked up three major wins at the du Maurier Classic, winning in 1980, ‘85 and ‘86.

Titleholders Championship

The Titleholders Championship was contested from 1937 to 1966, and once again in 1972, and was retroactively determined to be an LPGA major.

The Titleholers Championship began much the way the Masters did. The Titleholders was played annually in Augusta, Georgia beginning in 1937 at Augusta Country Club, not far from Augusta National. There weren’t a lot of women who made a career as professional golfers in 1937, so the event was a mix of top professional and amateur players, and a professional didn’t win the Titleholders until 1948. That professional happened to be Patty Berg, who also won the first three Titleholders Championships as an amateur in 1937, ‘38 and ‘39. Louise Suggs and Babe Zaharias joined Berg in winning the Titleholders as both a professional and amateur.

The last Titleholders was played at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in 1972 after five years off, but it has not been played since.

Women’s Western Open

If you’ve always craved a match play major championship, you missed it by about 75 years. The Western Open was not only retroactively declared a major championship by the LPGA, but for the tournament’s first 25 years, it was decided by match play.

The Western Open was first contested in 1930, making it the oldest championship to give women credit for a major win. It was played as a match play event through 1954 and was held as a stroke play event from 1955 until its final year in 1967.

The Western Open was dominated by the biggest names in women’s golf during the time. Patty Berg won the tournament a record seven times, while Babe Zaharias and Louise Suggs each won it four times, and Mickey Wright won it three times. In total, those four players account for just under half, 18 of the 38, of all Western Open wins.

About the Author

Nick Heidelberger is the Editor of GolfLink. He has a degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and has been an avid golfer for more than 10 years. In the years prior to joining GolfLink, he worked for the New England Section of the PGA of America.