Texas Golf Association, Since 1906
Texas Golf Association, Since 1906

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Betsy Rawls remembers her WTGA State Amateur victories
Author: Betsy Rawls
Before the 1949 WTGA State Championship, I had not played a lot of tournaments, having taken up the game only four years prior to that.  Therefore I was not expecting much of myself and was certainly not one the favorites to win that week.  The women’s state tournament has always had a very strong field, and 1949 was no exception.  Polly Riley was one of the top amateurs in the country, Aniela Goldthwaite had won the state championship multiple times, and a newcomer named Betty Mackinnon was creating quite a buzz.  I can’t remember much about the early matches, but somehow I got to the semi-finals to play Polly Riley.  We were all square playing the 18th hole and both hit the green in regulation.  Polly played first and two-putted for a par.  I was left with a downhill, curving putt of about 20 feet.  I told myself to stay relaxed and make a smooth stroke, and, miraculously, the putt went in.  I had beaten the overwhelming favorite of the tournament, which was as much of a shock to me as I’m sure it was to the people at River Crest.  The final match was against Betty MacKinnon, a very attractive and obviously talented twenty-one year old from east Texas. I’m sure Betty hit the ball better than I did that day, her swing certainly looked better; but my short game and my putting won out in a close match.  Betty and I became good friends later, as we joined the staff of Wilson Sporting Goods Co. on the same day, traveled the LPGA tour and did a lot of exhibition work together. She told me that her loss of that Texas Sate Championship had devastated her.  I’ve always had the feeling that the outcome of that tournament had a big impact on both of our careers – a positive one on mine and a negative one on hers, because the self-confidence and self –esteem of each of us was so effected.  As a professional, Betty never lived up to her potential and retired after five years, and I went on to play for 25 years and win 55 tournaments.
 
What a difference a year made in my golf game, between 1949 and 1950.  I had worked with Harvey Penick a lot that year after winning at River Crest and went to Brae Burn C.C. in Houston with high hopes.  I knew I was swinging well when I won the preliminary four-ball event with my team from Austin, won the long drive contest, the putting contest, and was medalist in the qualifying round.  I can honestly say that my golf game that week was the best it had ever been or would ever be again.  I was in complete control of every shot.  I don’t quite know why.  I can remember what I was thinking about in the swing – taking the club a little straighter back – but why that made everything click, I don’t know.  I met Polly Riley again, this time in the finals, and we had a good match, but I was not to be denied.  Golf being what it is, swings change despite the efforts to keep the same feelings and produce the same results.  Over the years in my career, I must have tried a hundred different moves and swing thoughts, sometimes with good results and sometimes not.  But I could never recreate the magic of Brae Burn
 
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