By Patricia Smith Solin
The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was still sixteen years away, but nevertheless, women made their talents known in Riverton. Women have played in golfing tournaments at the Riverton Country Club since its inception in 1900.
Likened to Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Jim Thorpe, Charlotte Dod was an English multi-sports talent. Invited to the United States by Frances C. Griscom, a former US Women’s Golf Champion from Philadelphia, Dod’s aggressive play in Riverton won the tournament against local challengers.
Then 33, Dod met with Mrs. Cecil Fitler and the daughters of the Biddle, Frismuth, Lippincott, and Borden families on the nine-hole links at the Riverton Country Club on 03 October 1904 in preparation for her upcoming US Women’s Amateur golfing tournament.
Nicknamed Lottie, the “Little Wonder,” Dod was born on 24 September 1871. The Guinness Book of World Records notes her as one of the most versatile female athletes of all time. In addition to golf, she excelled in ice skating, tobogganing, field hockey, archery, and tennis.
She won her first tournament at Wimbledon at age 15 in 1887 and then in subsequent matches in 1888, 1891, 1892, and 1893. Lottie is still the youngest player to win the women’s singles tournament.
After Dod retired, she ended up in a nursing home in England, largely forgotten as a sports legend. She died there at 88 while listening to a Wimbledon match.
In 2020, the Newbury Town Council dedicated a plaque in honor of five-time Wimbledon champion and Olympic archery silver medallist Lottie Dod, who once lived in the area.