LPGA star Betty Jameson died three years ago today. We look back on the trail she blazed for women in golf. Originally published May 2009 on Obit-Mag.com.
Betty Jameson was first star of women’s golf. In 1950, she was among 13 women to start the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Her straight arrow shooting and statuesque frame propelled her to the top of the field.
In this June 1947, file photo, Betty Jameson displays a practice swing prior to the third round play in the Women's U.S. Open Golf Tournament at Starmount Forest Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. Jameson won the 72-hole tourney with a 295 total. Jameson, one of the 13 founding members of the LPGA Tour in 1950, died Saturday. She was 89. (AP Photo, File)
While the LPGA professional tour currently has 30 tournaments with prize money well over $50 million, the early days of the tour were far more modest. Driving in caravan from course to course, the 13 original members led a vagabond and rigorous existence, suffering the pangs of the road not for fortune (or fame really) but for love of the game.
Jameson learned that love early in her life. She rented clubs and paid green fees at a public course outside of Dallas at age 11. Surging quickly, she won the Southern Women’s Amateur title at 15.
She won 10 tournaments and over $91,000 in prize money during her professional career and became one of the first faces of women’s pro golf. She was inducted into the Women’s Golf Hall of Fame in 1951 and the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame in 1967.
After her playing days were over and during her latter years, Jameson faced financial hardship. The Palm Beach Post reported in their obituary that
“For years, Jameson shared a home in Delray Beach with another golfer, Mary Lena Faulk, but it wasn't until after Faulk lost her fight with cancer in 1995 that Jameson learned Faulk never got around to leaving the house to Jameson in her will.
Then, Sports Illustrated and other publications reported on how this Hall of Famer was on the brink of homelessness, surviving on a Social Security check of $261 a month.”
On the 50th anniversary of the LPGA, Jameson was named one of the 50 best women’s golfers ever. The tour also allocated a $10,000 honorarium to the 13 founders of the league.
Jameson took on the hardships of her later life with the same determination that she showed on the course, displaying an indefatigable and independent spirit.
Today’s stars of the LPGA owe a great deal to Betty Jameson, a pioneering golfer.
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