Who's who: Babe Zaharias

  • Photo of Babe Zaharias
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  • Photo of Babe Zaharias
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Who's who: Babe Zaharias

  • Name:

    Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias
  • Country:

    USA
  • Lived:

    [1911-1956]. Born on June 26, 1911 in Port Arthur, Texas. Died on Sept 27, 1956 in Galveston, Texas, aged 45.
  • Original/Home Club:

  • Occupation:

    Professional golfer, Olympic athlete (track & field), golf writer, singer, actress, golf writer and administrator; one of 13 founders of the LPGA (1950).
  • Turned Pro:

    1947

Roll of Honour

MAJORS (10), including a "grand slam" of all three major championships that women competed for in 1950. US Women's Amateur champion (1946) and British Ladies Amateur champion (1947). Total professional wins (48), including LPGA Tour (41). LPGA Tour leading money winner (1950, '51). World Golf Hall of Fame (inducted in 1951).

Did you know?

"Olympic athlete" is not perhaps a description that applies to many golfers. But it most surely fitted Babe Zaharias. Competing as Babe Didrikson, she won Olympic Gold in both the javelin and hurdles in the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. She was also an All-American basketball player while in college.

She took up golf at the age of 21, and quickly established a natural ability that saw her become the most famous female golfer of the late-1940s and early '50s. Outdriving most men from the tee was just one of her golfing talents. While touring in California in 1938, she met her future husband, a professional wrestler named George Zaharias. In that same year, at the Los Angeles Open, Zaharias became the first woman to compete in a men's PGA Tour event (long before Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie tested their skills against the men).

During an incredible career, her many golfing achievements included winning 17 straight amateur tournaments, as well as a total of 41 LPGA Tour events. The first four of her major championship wins came as an amateur, while in 1950 she won a "grand slam" of all three events that carried "Major" status at that time. She was a founding member of the LPGA, which was launched in 1950. Zaharias died of cancer in 1956 aged 45. Her autobiography entitled "This Life I've Led," gives some insights into the many, varied and extraordinary achievements of this very extraordinary person.

Top tournaments won by Babe Zaharias

1955
America
293
$1,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

293

Prize money

$1,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Peach Blossom Open. Second-placed Marilynn Smith finished 2 shots behind Zaharias.

1955
America
298
$1,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

298

Prize money

$1,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Tampa Open. Second-placed Louise Suggs finished 1 shot behind Zaharias.

1954
Awards
75.48
n/a
LPGA Tr

Category

Awards

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

75.48

Prize money

n/a

Title sponsor

LPGA Tr

Zaharias (USA) won the Vare Trophy, recording the season's lowest scoring average on the LPGA Tour.

1954
America
294
$1,200
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

294

Prize money

$1,200

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Serbin Open. Second-placed Patty Berg finished 1 shot behind Zaharias.

1954
Majors
291 (+3)
$2,000
USGA

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Score

291 (+3)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

USGA

The US Women's Open (9th) (July 1-3). Second-placed Betty Hicks (USA) finished 12 shots behind Zaharias (USA), who recorded her third and final US Women's Open win. [Salem CC, Peabody, Mass.].

1954
America
223
$875
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

223

Prize money

$875

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Sarasota Open. Patty Berg and Louise Suggs finished 9 shots behind Zaharias.

1954
America
294
$1,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

294

Prize money

$1,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the All-American Open. Second-placed Louise Suggs finished 8 shots behind Zaharias.

1954
America
Tam O'Shanter CC
293 (-11)
$1,000
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Tam O'Shanter CC

Score

293 (-11)

Prize money

$1,000

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the All American Open. Second-placed Louise Suggs (USA) finished 9 shots behind Zaharias (USA), who recorded her fifth win in this event. [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL; now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

1953
America
217
$875
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

217

Prize money

$875

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Sarasota Open. Second-placed Betsy Rawls finished 7 shots behind Zaharias.

1953
America
217
$875
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

217

Prize money

$875

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Babe Zaharias Open. Second-placed Louise Suggs finished 1 shot behind Zaharias.

Category

Team Events

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Orlando Mixed Foursome. Winning team : Babe Zaharias & Al Besselink. Second-placed team : Anderson & Chapman.

1952
Majors
Augusta CC
299 (+11)
$1000
x

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Augusta CC

Score

299 (+11)

Prize money

$1000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Titleholders Championship (13th). Second-placed Betsy Rawls (USA) finished 7 shots behind Zaharias (USA). [Augusta CC, Augusta, GA].

1952
America
226
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

226

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Fresno Open. Second-placed Marilynn Smith finished 3 shots behind Zaharias.

1952
America
7 & 6
$300
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

7 & 6

Prize money

$300

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Women's Texas Open. Polly Riley finished in second place behind Zaharias.

1952
America
145
Weathervane

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

145

Prize money

Title sponsor

Weathervane

Played as the Miami Weathervane. Second-placed Betty Jameson (USA) and Louise Suggs (USA) finished 5 shots behind Zaharias.

1951
America
Tam O'Shanter CC
295 (-9)
$1,000
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Tam O'Shanter CC

Score

295 (-9)

Prize money

$1,000

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the All American Open (Aug 2-5). Second-placed Betsy Rawls (USA) finished 10 shots behind defending champion Zaharias (USA). [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL; now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

298

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the All-American Women's Open. Patty Berg finished in second place behind Zaharias.

1951
Team Events
6 & 5
x

Category

Team Events

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

6 & 5

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Orlando Florida Two-Ball. Winning team of Babe Zaharias & George Bolesta beat Alice Bauer & Pete Cooper 6 and 5 in the 36-hole final.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

224

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Richmond Women's Open. Second-placed Louise Suggs finished 1 shot behind Zaharias.

1951
America
223
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

223

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Tampa Women's Open. Second-placed Louise Suggs finished 7 shots behind Zaharias.

1951
Awards
$15,807
see Score
LPGA Tr

Category

Awards

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

$15,807

Prize money

see Score

Title sponsor

LPGA Tr

Zaharias (USA) won her second straight LPGA Tour Money List, with 1951 season earnings of $15,807 on the Tour. For the second straight year Patty Berg (USA) was second on the money list.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Women's Texas Open.

1951
America
225
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

225

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Valley Open. Second-placed Patty Berg finished 6 shots behind Zaharias.

1951
America
Lakewood CC, TX
149
Weathervane

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Lakewood CC, TX

Score

149

Prize money

Title sponsor

Weathervane

Played as the Dallas Weathervane. Second-placed Patty Berg (USA) finished 4 shots behind Zaharias (USA). [Lakewood CC, Dallas, TX].

1951
America
145
Weathervane

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

145

Prize money

Title sponsor

Weathervane

Played as the Indianapolis Weathervane. Patty Berg (USA) finished in second place behind Zaharias (USA).

1951
America
Tam O'Shanter CC
298 (-6)
$2,100
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Tam O'Shanter CC

Score

298 (-6)

Prize money

$2,100

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the World Championship of Women's Golf (Aug 9-12). Second-placed Patty Berg (USA) finished 6 shots behind Zaharias (USA), who won this event for the fourth straight year. [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL. Now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

296

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the All-American Women's Open. Second-placed Patty Berg finished 10 shots behind Zaharias.

1950
America
Weathervane

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

Weathervane

Zaharias (USA) was overall winner of the 1950 Cross Country 144-hole Weathervane Tournament, which was played as four two-round events in Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Pebble Beach. She won the Cleveland and Pebble Beach events.

1950
Awards
$14,800
see Score
LPGA Tr

Category

Awards

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

$14,800

Prize money

see Score

Title sponsor

LPGA Tr

Zaharias (USA) won the inaugural LPGA Tour Money List, with 1950 season earnings of $14,800 on the Tour. Patty Berg (USA) was second on the money list.

1950
Majors
Augusta CC
298 (+10)
$700
x

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Augusta CC

Score

298 (+10)

Prize money

$700

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Titleholders Championship (11th). Second-placed Clare Doran (USA, amateur) finished 8 shots behind Zaharias (USA). [Augusta CC, Augusta, GA].

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Score

5 & 3

Prize money

$500

Title sponsor

x

The Women's Western Open (21st). Zaharias (USA) beat Peggy Kirk (USA) 5 and 3 in the final. [Cherry Hills CC, Englewood, nr Denver, CO].

1950
America
Tam O'Shanter CC
293 (-11)
$2,000
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Tam O'Shanter CC

Score

293 (-11)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the World Championship of Women's Golf. Second-placed Patty Berg (USA) finished 7 shots behind Zaharias (USA), who won this event for the third straight year. [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL. Now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

1950
America
Tam O'Shanter CC
296 (-8)
$1,000
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Tam O'Shanter CC

Score

296 (-8)

Prize money

$1,000

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the All American Open. Second-placed Patty Berg (USA) finished 10 shots behind Zaharias (USA), who recorded her third win in this event in five years. [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL; now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

1950
Majors
Rolling Hills CC, KS
291 (-9)
$1,500
LPGA

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Rolling Hills CC, KS

Score

291 (-9)

Prize money

$1,500

Title sponsor

LPGA

The US Women's Open (5th) (Sept 28-Oct 1). Second-placed Betsy Rawls (USA, amateur) finished 9 shots behind Zaharias (USA), who this championship for the second time. [Rolling Hills CC, Wichita, Kansas].

1950
America
145
Weathervane

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

145

Prize money

Title sponsor

Weathervane

Played as the Cleveland Weathervane. Second-placed Patty Berg (USA) finished 8 shots behind Zaharias (USA).

1950
America
158
Weathervane

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Score

158

Prize money

Title sponsor

Weathervane

Played as the Pebble Beach Weathervane. Second-placed Patty Berg (USA) finished 2 shots behind Zaharias (USA).

1949
America
Tam O'Shanter CC
301 (-3)
$1,100
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Tam O'Shanter CC

Score

301 (-3)

Prize money

$1,100

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the World Championship of Women's Golf (Aug 11-14). Second-placed Patty Berg (USA) finished 8 shots behind defending champion Zaharias (USA). [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL. Now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Score

300 (E)

Prize money

$1,200

Title sponsor

WPGA

The US Women's Open (3rd) (Aug 12-15). Second-placed Betty Hicks (USA) finished 8 shots behind Zaharias (USA), who claimed the fifth of her ten major championship titles. [Atlantic City CC, Northfield, NJ].

1948
America
Tam O'Shanter CC
149 (-3)
$1,000
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Tam O'Shanter CC

Score

149 (-3)

Prize money

$1,000

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the inaugural World Championship of Women's Golf (Aug 7/8). Second-placed Patty Berg (USA) finished 1 shot behind Zaharias (USA). [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL; now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

1948
America
Tam O'Shanter CC
309 (+5)
$1,700
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Tam O'Shanter CC

Score

309 (+5)

Prize money

$1,700

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the All American Open (Aug 3-6). Second-placed Patty Berg (USA) finished 3 shots behind Zaharias (USA), who won this event for the second time in three years. [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL; now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

Category

Amateur

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Score

5 & 4

Prize money

n/a

Title sponsor

LGU

The Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship (44th). Zaharias (USA) beat Jacqueline Gordon (Eng) 5 and 4 in the final. [No.1 course, Gullane GC, Gullane, East Lothian].

1947
Majors
Augusta CC
304 (+4)
amateur
x

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Augusta CC

Score

304 (+4)

Prize money

amateur

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Titleholders Championship (8th). Second-placed Dorothy Kirby (USA, amateur) finished 5 shots behind Zaharias (USA, amateur). [Augusta CC, Augusta, GA].

1946
America
Tam O'Shanter CC
310 (+6)
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Tam O'Shanter CC

Score

310 (+6)

Prize money

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the All American Open. Second-placed Betty Jameson (USA) finished 7 shots behind Zaharias (USA). [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL; now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

Category

Amateur

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Score

11 & 9

Prize money

n/a

Title sponsor

USGA

The US Women's Amateur Championship (46th). Zaharias (USA) beat Clara Sherman (USA) 11 & 9 in the final. [Southern Hills CC, Tulsa, Oklahoma].

1945
Majors
Highland G&CC
4 & 2
amateur
x

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Highland G&CC

Score

4 & 2

Prize money

amateur

Title sponsor

x

The Women's Western Open (16th). For the second straight year Zaharias (USA, amateur) beat Dorothy Germain (USA, amateur) in the final; this time by 4 and 2. [Highland G&CC, Indianapolis, Indiana].

1944
Majors
Park Ridge CC
7 & 5
amateur
x

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Park Ridge CC

Score

7 & 5

Prize money

amateur

Title sponsor

x

The Women's Western Open (15th). Zaharias (USA, amateur) beat Dorothy Germain (USA, amateur) by 7 and 5 in the final. [Park Ridge CC, Park Ridge, nr Chicago, IL].

1940
Majors
Blue Mound
5 & 4
amateur
x

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Zaharias, Babe

Venue

Blue Mound

Score

5 & 4

Prize money

amateur

Title sponsor

x

The Women's Western Open (11th). Zaharias (USA, amateur) beat Mrs Russell Mann 5 and 4 in the final. [Blue Mound G&CC, Wauwatosa, nr Milwaukee, WI].

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