History of SWDGA

The Syracuse Women’s District Golf Association was founded in 1933. Abbie Harper Bigelow was the brains behind the organization and helped draw up the first constitution. She was the first President. There were originally nine member clubs: Bellevue, Cazenovia Golf Club, Drumlins, LaFayette, Onondaga, Seneca, Skaneateles, Tuscarora and the Yacht Club (Lakeshore). The objectives were to promote interest and fellowship in the game of golf; to promote good sportsmanship and friendly rivalry among members by conducting regular sweepstakes and tournaments; and to foster the best traditions of the game of golf.  There were 70 members the first year, playing golf every other week. By the second season there were more than 100 members.


Two other well-known founding members were Virginia Allen and Peg Russell.  Peg Russell helped her father lay out the original Seneca golf course. She later was District President and champion at Seneca, Bellevue and Drumlins. (Virginia) Ginnie Allen was not only a local champion, but also won titles state and nationwide. She won the Abbie 50 years after she had won it the first time. She was District President and won our Championship a record 19 times. Ginnie was inducted into the SU Hall of Fame and the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.

The SWDGA has seen a number of its members go on to become professional golfers including Terry Bednarski, Karen Kulas, Suzy McGuire Whaley, Jackie Cannizzo, Patty Butcher, Betsy Barrett, Sandy Chester, Debbie Austin and Sally Dee.


Today our membership includes 120+ members from 16 private clubs, playing 22 District days in a season. To quote Gerry Ashe from 1962, “Founded in 1933, the Syracuse Women’s District Golf Association is recognized as one of the best organized, best run and most active organizations in the world of golf and has contributed and played a tremendous part in the growth of golf in New York State.”




*Virginia Allen-Bellevue, *Marie Andrews-Drumlins, *Chris Ashby-Cazenovia Golf, Debbie Austin-Teugega, *Lee Babson-Onondaga, *Abbie Bigelow-Drumlins, *Gini Bugin-Lafayette, *Anne Clark-Seneca, *Betty Fisher-Drumlins, *Aileen Groves-Bellevue, *Carolyn Hopkins-Bellevue, *Helen Horn-Drumlins, *Emma Kutzer-Lafayette, *Annette Lawton-Drumlins, *Nell Loewenberg -Lakeshore, *Nan Muench-Lakeshore, *Helen Stewart Munro-Tuscarora/Drumlins, *Ida Pirro-Tuscarora, *Bertha Pulver-Seneca, *Peg Russell-Drumlins, *Bessie Shulman-Lafayette, *Florence Smith-Onondaga, *Minnie Spire-Lakeshore, *Mildred Stone-Lafayette, *Helen Stover-Onondaga, *Lillian Milner Thorne-Onondaga, *Louise Williamson-Teugaga.   




SWDGA Honorary Memberships were given for outstanding contributions to SWDGA or to golf in general.  Many of the SWDGA Honoraries were Founding members.

SWDGA logo


Syracuse women’s district golf assocation