The U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship was established in 1949, one year after the Junior Amateur Championship. Philadelphia (Pa.) Country Club, one of the oldest golf courses in the nation, was the host club for the USGA’s newest championship, and the competition drew a starting field of 28 girls from 17 states, although 10 of the players were from the Philadelphia area.
Marlene Bauer, 15, of Los Angeles, claimed the inaugural title and she became one of a long list of Girls’ Junior champions who would have success on the professional level, including Hall of Famers Mickey Wright, JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Amy Alcott and Nancy Lopez. Alcott, Carner, Inbee Park, Hollis Stacy and Wright would go on to win the U.S. Women’s Open.
Kay Cornelius won the 1981 Girls’ Junior and joined her mother, Kathy, the 1956 U.S. Women’s Open champion, as the only mother-daughter tandem to have won a USGA championship.
In 2016, the USGA made a signifcant change to the age criteria. Starting with the 2017 championship, any female under the age of 19 will be eligible to compete in the U.S. Girls’ Junior. Prior to that, competitors could not have turned 18 by the conclusion of the championship.