• U.S.

Sport: Golfermes

4 minute read

At New York’s Meadow Brook Club in 1895 a handful of U. S. “golf widows,” clad in ground-sweeping skirts and cartwheel hats, staged a tournament to select a national women’s golf champion. Best “golf-erine” of the day was Mrs. C. S. Brown of Shinnecock Hills who posted a score of 132 for the 18-hole, one-round tournament.

Since that time many able women golfers have swept over U. S. fairways—in swishing skirts, in hobble skirts, in knickerbockers, in shorts—have gradually whittled their scores: first to break 100 in national competition was New York’s Beatrix Hoyt, thrice U. S. champion (1896-97-98); first to break 90 was Boston’s Margaret Curtis, who won the national title three times (1907-11-12); first to break 80 was Providence’s Glenna Collett, national champion six times (1922-25-28-29-30-35).

Last week, when the Women’s National Championship was played at the Wee Burn Club in Noroton, Conn., the topflight women golfers of the U. S. could look the menfolk square in the eye. Redheaded, 21-year-old Patty Berg, No. 1 woman golfer, was unable to defend her title because of a recent appendectomy. But there were 198 other girls (including the champions of two foreign countries) who kept the galleries beguiled. Outstanding were:

>Svelte, 22-year-old Beatrice Barrett, Patty Berg’s neighbor in Minneapolis, who set a new record for the Women’s National when she posted 74 in the opening-day qualifying round, only two strokes above men’s par for the long Wee Burn course.

>Fortyish Mary K. Browne, national women’s tennis champion in 1912-13-14 and runner-up for the national golf title in 1924, who, playing for fun while on vacation from teaching tennis in an Ohio school, got a 79, fifth best score in the qualifying round.

>Chicago’s giggly Eleanor Dudley, University of Alabama junior, who got a hole-in-one on her fourth drive, then became so flustered she took an 8 on the next hole, wound up with 92 and failed to qualify for match play.

>Popular 36-year-old Glenna Collett Vare, who, still playing a superb game—although golf clubs are now secondary to her two children, her bird dogs and her shotguns—was eliminated in the first round of match play by a schoolgirl named Marion Brown.

>England’s pert Pam Barton, 22 and already twice British golf champion, who won the U. S. title three years ago and looked as if she were going to repeat until she met New Jersey’s slick-putting Charlotte Glutting in the third round.

>Husky, 24-year-old Fay Crocker of Montevideo, four times golf champion of Argentina, whose long drives fascinated the galleries, convinced them that she is the Sam Snead of women golfers.

>Wee Betty Hicks of Long Beach, Calif., golf fans’ new-found darling, who, despite her no lb., her 18 years and the fact that she could not break 100 a year ago, reached the semi-finals by mowing down three titans, Mrs. William Hockenjos, Fay Crocker and Maureen Orcutt—all pre-tournament favorites.

When the field narrowed down to the finalists, the two who had survived the week of sizzling heat, drenching rains, frayed nerves and menacing bugaboos were: San Antonio’s 20-year-old Betty Jameson and Atlanta’s 19-year-old Dorothy Kirby. Youngest finalists in the history of the national tournament, they were nevertheless old hands at the game. Willowy, green-eyed Dot Kirby was women’s champion of Georgia at 13, champion of the South at 17, had twice reached the second round of the National. Sturdy, stolid Betty Jameson was champion of the South at 15, won the Texas championship four times, reached the third round of the National last year.

The two finalists had met once before: in the southern championship two years ago Atlanta’s pride beat San Antonio’s pride, 3 & 2. Last week the tables were turned. Long-striding Betty Jameson pulled away from Miss Kirby in the first nine holes and never let her catch up. Two up at the ninth, 4 up at the 18th, 2 up at the 27th, Miss Jameson took the match and title on the 34th green with the identical score by which her opponent beat her two years ago, 3 & 2.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com