Babe Didrickson Zaharias
“The Babe” is widely considered the greatest female athlete of the 20th century. Golf was her second hall of fame career, coming after Olympic glory in track and field. After playing in the Fort Worth Women’s Open in 1935, she entered the Texas Amateur Championship as her first major amateur championship. Didrickson tied Betty Jameson for the second seed in the qualifying round, both shooting 85 at River Oaks Country Club. She advanced through her match play bracket and went on the face Peggy Chandler in the final match. In front of an estimated 2,000 fans, Babe used booming drives to claim the title 2 up.
Her plans were then to compete in the Women’s Southern Amateur Championship and then vie for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. However, her application to the Southern Championship was declined after she was declared ineligible due to her previous professional sports affiliations. After much national controversy and enduring a three-year wait, she was reinstated as an amateur. She went on to win the 1946 US Women’s Amateur Championship, become the first American to win the British Women’s Amateur, and generally dominate golf. She turned pro and went on to win the 1948 and 1950 US Women’s Open and then joined fellow Texans Betty Jameson and Bettye Danoff, and 10 others in forming the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
After much professional success and a battle with cancer, Didrickson Zaharias passed away in 1956. The W.T.G.A. founded a charity event in her honor to be contested on the day before the opening round of the Women’s State Amateur.