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Cecil Leitch

One of the greatest pioneers in the history of Ladies golf

Cecil (above right) and her sisters

Being one of five golfing sisters prepared Cecil for the mental tests of competitive golf from an early age.

She began at the age of nine (now old by modern standards) and built her swing by watching great players, mostly from the male professional game.

She told how Harold Hilton, John Ball, and the great French champion Arnaud Massy contributed to her development, but makes it clear that she was essentially self-taught.

Arnaud Massy, British Open winner 1907 was a regular visitor to the Silloth course, and the young Cecil probably gathered some of her natural speed through watching the long-hitting Frenchman.

The strong winds, heavy rough, and rugged terrain of her home course Silloth in Cumbria was a good breeding ground for a future champion.

Silloth 1890

As well as being able to study the great players of her day, Cecil also credited the book “Advanced Golf” by James Braid, and told how she was reprimanded by the school teacher who confiscated her copy after being caught reading it in the classroom.

In 1908, at the age of 14, Cecil announced herself on the international golfing stage by reaching the semi-finals of the British Ladies Amateur Championship played at St Andrew's. Cecil would continue on to be a champion and ambassador for the Lady's game for the next 40 years.

Still holds up pretty well with the swings of today

The most impressive quality of the Cecil Leitch movement is her swing speed. The ball was given a serious `rap` as she hit it as far as possible. Any good driver swing must contain a good amount of violence.

Cecil Leitch portrait (left). Acrylic in canvas 40 x 60 cm.

Swing study (right). Watercolor on paper 30 x 52 cm.

A few sketches and Cecil Leitch's thoughts.

"Cecil preferred brogues"- A4 sketch on 300g art paper

Cecil took part in two books-"Golf" and "Golf for Girls" Her views were interesting and sometimes controversial for the early part of the twentieth century. Listed are some of the more interesting ones: "I would never wear golf boots. I prefer brogues as they allow free use of the ankles."

"If you hit it true and with a quick "swat," you don`t need a long swing."

Ball in 1913

"John Ball amazed me with the length of his shots as his finish was barely higher than his knees."

"Correct iron play is achieved by striking into the turf after the ball. It should be a small divot and not a great sod." "A common curse for bad timing is players come to the back of the ball with the body still behind."

"A correct follow-through implies that the proceeding parts of the swing were also correct."

The Cecil Leitch books are worth a read. You will find many of her comments and thoughts surprisingly contemporary.

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