I CAN’T SAY I KNEW of Hall of Fame golfer Betty Jameson until Don Van Natta brought her to my attention today in an email. Jameson was one of 13 women who founded the LPGA in 1950. Others included Patty Berg, Louise Suggs and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
Jameson died a week ago in Florida. She was 89.
Don called Jameson “one of the game’s first glamour girls,” and had the good fortune to interview her for his upcoming book on Zaharias.
“Betty gave me an amazing interview for Wonder Girl in south Florida in late 2004, and I stayed in touch with her a bit,” Don told me. “She won the 1947 U.S Women's Open in Greensboro, N.C. − she shot a seven-over par 295, the first time a woman had broken 300 in a 72-hole tournament.”
The LPGA began with 14 tournaments and less than $50,000 in prize money. This year the women will play in 30 tournaments in 10 countries for nearly $55 million. Jameson helped make it possible.
“She was very funny and had an interesting love-hate relationship with Babe,” added Don.
Jameson won 10 events on the tour and made about $90,000, good money in those early years. Famed golf writer Herbert Warren Wind was so impressed by her accuracy that he compared her to Ben Hogan.
−The Armchair Golfer