Beverly Lewis was unveiled at The Belfry yesterday as the the first woman to captain the Professional Golfers' Association.

Lewis, who had been captain elect, succeeds John Yeo following the PGA's annual general meeting.

Men have captained the PGA for the past 104 years but the new appointment immediately won the backing of chief executive Sandy Jones who said: "It's a refreshing change to have a lady as PGA captain. Bev is more than qualified for the role and was voted for unanimously by the board on the basis of her professional credentials."

As captain, Lewis will be an ambassador for the PGA and represent the membership at all official functions and major golf events including the Open and the US Masters.

Lewis said: "This is an amazing honour and I couldn't have been more surprised than if someone had asked me to be Queen! I am delighted to be in a position to champion women's golf, as well as having the opportunity to make a difference within the professional circles of the game."

Lewis first took up the game at the age of 18 when she played at a local pitchand-putt course in open-toed sandals with a club bought from a junk shop in Southend.

She is a founder member of the women's PGA, one of the first women professionals to gain PGA membership, a qualified R&A referee, a respected lecturer on the sport, an author and a member of the BBC commentary team.

Lewis added: "It's quite daunting when you are described as a role model for women. I hope I am able to show everyone that golf isn't just for retired men, but an exciting sport that welcomes all, including teenagers - at every level.