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Pat Garner Stapler - 1952 WTGA finalist

Pat Garner Stapler was a force in Texas golf in the 1950s and claimed a place among the greatest ever West Texas players.  In 1951, Stapler won the Midland City Championship and was the runner up at the prestigious Broadmoor Invitational before arriving at the WTGA State Amateur Championship.  Although a new face among the contenders, you could see her talent from a mile away.  News coverage early in the championship reported that, “Pat Garner, the gal whom we think has the smoothest swing in the entire field, just looks as though she will go all the way.”  She defeated another West Texas great, Agatha Lee, in the quarterfinals before falling to future LPGA star Betty Dodd in the semi-finals.
 
She almost proved the reporter correct again the following year.  In 1952, she reached the final match and eventually lost to Opal Riedel who birdied the second extra hole to claim the title.  Stapler also reached the semi-finals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in 1952, was the 1953 WTGA State Amateur Championship medalist and reached the final match of the 1954 Texas Women’s Open.  Along the way, she set the course record at Midland Country Club and won four Women’s West Texas Championships.  She continued competing for some time after starting a family, and even played in the State Amateur while 6 months pregnant with her daughter Terry!  She became a good friend of Babe Didrickson Zaharias who was very encouraging and kind to her.  “She always welcomed me to her home and I could stay as long I needed”, Stapler recalls.  When asked if “The Babe” was the greatest athlete to ever live, Stapler joked, “Maybe so, but, she sure thought she was!”
 
Stapler became a teaching professional at Lubbock Country Club and is still passionate about competitive golf.  As we were concluding our interview, she paused and became very earnest as she provided this encouragement to aspiring champions today.  “Play hard every time you go out!”
 

1951 WTGA State Amateur Semi-finalists.  (Left to Right) Pat Garner Stapler, Betty Dodd, Polly Riley, Jo Weilbacher

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100 Texas Women is a blog with each post featuring a different notable woman from the history of Texas golf.  You can honor these women and invest in the next 100 years of women's golf by contributing to the Breaking 100 campaign.  All proceeds benefit the TGA Foundations' Women's Initiatives.  Learn more and support the campaign here.
 
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So very proud of our mom👍💕
Posted by Terry Staub on July 15, 2016 @ 2:13 pm

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