Women's Championships

Women's History

The Beginning

In 1917, Winifred Roger Holmes, better known as “Winnie,” began playing golf at Timuquana in Jacksonville. She and her husband, John, spent many hours playing golf. But like the pioneers throughout history, Winnie wanted more – for herself, for women, for golf.

In 1927 she founded the Florida Women's State Golf Association, and organization that has grown and prospered tremendously in the past 75 years. “She got together with one or two people and organized the Florida Women’s State Golf Association. Her brother, also a golfer, drew up the by-laws."

In March of 1927, Winnie was the driving force behind the staging of the first FWSGA State Championship at Mount Plymouth CC near Orlando. It seemed only fitting that Winnie become the first FWSGA champion. She defeated Mrs. Harry C. Dodge in the 1927 inaugural event.

Winnie continued to lend her support and organizational skills to the FWSGA throughout the years. Her memory, her pioneering efforts, and the year of dedication for women’s golf in Florida will not soon be forgotten.

The Twenties

1927 - The first FWSGA Championship was held at Mt. Plymouth C.C. near Orlando. The founder, “Winnie” Roger Holmes, won the inaugural Championship, with the runner-up being Mrs. Harry C. Dodge.

1928 - The second annual FWSGA Championship was held once again at Mt. Plymouth C.C.  Mrs. George Strickland was the president. Mrs. Melvin Jones won the championship with Mary Clark as the runner-up.

1929 - The third annual FWSGA Championship was held in Tampa. Mrs. W.H.  Symmes was the president. Mrs. Lee Mida won the championship with Mrs. Melvin Jones as the runner-up.

The Thirties

The thirties found the FWSGA moving around the state with the Annual Match Play Championship being held in Jacksonville in 1930 as Mrs. Lee Mida retained the trophy with Mrs. Jones as runner-up for the second year.

1931 - The Championship was held in Orlando. Mrs. Harry Dodge emerged as the victor with Mrs. Joe Holsinger as the runner-up.

1932 - Held in Lakeland, Mrs. Holsinger won the Championship and Mrs. Dodge was the runner-up.

1933 - Winnie Holmes’ niece and golf protégée, Mary Rogers, won the Championship in Tampa against France Owen of Jacksonville.

1934 - The tournament was held in Miami with Mrs. Art Milea as the champion, and Frances Owen again as runner-up.  

1935 - Back to Mt. Plymouth with Mrs. Walter Dunn as president and Mary Rogers again with the championship trophy. Frances Owen was again the runner-up.

1936 - The founder, “Winnie” Holmes, was president and the tournament site was Ponte Vedra Country Club.  Frances Owen finally won her first of many FWSGA Championships with a victory over Emma Scalley of Pensacola.  

1937 - Much information exists about the Championships in 1937.  The FWSGA traveled to Pensacola to prepare for the 11th annual tournament, held at Pensacola Country Club on April 6-10, 1937. Mrs. F.W. Riley of Pensacola was the FWSGA president with the local chairman being Mrs. Frontis Sherrill.  The women members of Pensacola Country Club were very active in planning the activities of tournament week.  Entertainment plans included a cocktail party at Pensacola C.C., a picnic supper at Pensacola Beach, a card party, a tea dance at the Officers Club and a supper dance at Pensacola C.C. on Saturday night.  A field of sixty-two golfers was expected for the tournament.  The annual meeting of the FWSGA was held in conjunction with a luncheon after golf on Thursday of the tournament week.  Each club represented in the tournament sent a delegate to the meeting.  The host hotel was the San Carlos Hotel with a European feel – single room with bath was $2.50 and a double bath was $4.00! Lunch each day at Pensacola C.C. was only 50 cent.


After the FWSGA directors meeting, it was announced that the Jacksonville club would put up a team trophy to be competed for in the 1937 tournament.  It is our Club Team of Three trophy still in use today.

Emma Scalley was expected to be the main threat for Frances Owen, 1936 winner. The 1935 champion, Mary Rogers, now Mary Rogers Brantley, emerged as the victor with Emma Scalley as runner-up.

1938 - Frances Owen won again in Gainesville with Mrs. Mary McGarry as runner-up.

1939 - The following year, in Tampa, Mrs. McGarry won the championship by defeating Roseann Clark.

The Forties

1940 - The championship was brought back to Mt. Plymouth, with Frances Owen again as the winner.

1941 - The field journeyed to Hollywood, where Frances Owen again was to be the winner before the war years of 1943 to 1945 when no Championship was held.

1946 - The first Championship after World War II was held in Hollywood with “Billie” Harting retaining trophy after five long years.

1947 - She did it again in 1947 in Tampa with Mrs. George Wilcox as the runner-up for the third time against “Billie.” 

1948 - Jo Ann “Bopie” Whitaker won in Orlando, defeating Mrs. Wilcox, the perennial runner-up.  She was the runner-up five times and never won the championship.  “Bopie” Whitaker was 21 years old and a medical student.

1949 - The championship was held at Ponte Vedra C.C. 189 golfers teed off in the qualifying round of the 20th annual FWSGA amateur. Evelyn Odom took medal honors with a four over par 80.  A score of 93 or under made the championship flight.  Mrs. George Pugh took a 17 on the third hole (five balls in the water).  Several ladies shot as high as 135 and one went as far as 151 for the 18-hole qualifier.  The annual business meeting of FWSGA was held at the Bath Club.  New officers were elected and the site of the 1950 tournament was announced to be Tallahassee for the first time. Bessie Porter of Tallahassee was elected president.  Evelyn Odom went on to win with Frances Owen as runner up. Interesting sidelights from newspaper clippings of the 1949 event follow:

Mrs. E.W. Mitchell, the state association historian, has movies of state tournaments, dating back to 1938, and snapshots, dating back to the first FSWGA event in 1927.

Mrs. Walter Shelly of Jacksonville and Emma Lou Prince Gainesville played the longest tournament match so far. They battled for 23 before Mrs. Prince won out. Both players were so tired after the match ended on the fifth hold that they hitchhiked a ride to the clubhouse on a track.

The Fifties

1950 - The fifties began with the Championship in Tallahassee.  Emma Scalley won over “Billie” Harting.  Ten golfers from Seminole Country Club entered the tournament, one of the largest contingents from any section of the state.

1951 - The following year, FWSGA journeyed to Miami Beach where Frances Owen defeated Mrs. Wilcox, our perennial “bridesmaid.”

1952 - It was back to Gainesville for the Championship.  Joanne Whitaker, the 1948 champion, emerged victorious once again, this time defeating “Billie” Harting, the three-time champion (1942, 1946, and 1947).  

1953 - “Billie” came back stronger than ever in 1953, winning for the fourth time in Sarasota by defeating Frances Owen, who had won the State Championship five times: 1936, 1938, 1940, 1941, and 1951.

1954 - Seventeen years later, the FWSGA returned to Pensacola Country Club for the Championship and annual meeting.  The president in 1937 for the eleventh annual tournament was Mrs. F.W. Riley. In 1954, the president of FWSGA was Mrs. Riley’s daughter Mary, now Mrs. J.H. Veal.  The field had increased from 62 golfers to about 125.  From an article in the Pensacola newspaper: “The women will be ‘queen bees’ around the Country Club and the poor men have been run off the course and even from their treasured locker room. Ed Beatty, club manager; gave the men orders to vacate Thursday night and the locker room, their haven, is now turned into a ‘ladies room.’”

The FWSGA changed their method of accepting golfer’s entries in 1954.  Handicaps were lowered from 20 to 16 in an effort to limit the field and get better golfers in the tournament.  The president of the Pensacola LGA in 1954 was our own Helen Sherman.

The tournament began with a Four-Ball tournament on Sunday as warm-up, qualifying was on Monday and match play started on Tuesday.  “Carol Gallagher lost her first match and then punched a metal locker room door, resulting in bandages and splints.”  After a week of golf and many events, Frances Owen became the six-time champion by defeating Mrs. R.E. Wilson.

1955 - Ocala was the site chosen in 1955 with new names in the winner’s circle.  Grace DeMoss defeated Emma Lou Prince for the championship.

1956 - Ponce de Leon was the venue with Ann Middlemas defeating Mrs. M.E. Wilson.

1957 - The FWSGA chose Naples with Grace DeMoss claiming a victory once again over Ann Middlemas.

1958 - With Verne Smith as president, the tournament was held in Sanford the week of April 8th.  Handicaps had to be 20 or less and the Sanford Women’s Golf Association hosted the tournament.  The champion was once again Grace DeMoss with Ann Middlemas as the runner-up.

1959 - Closing out the decade, the FWSGA journeyed to Panama City with Helen Sherman as president.  This time Ann Middlemas finished first over Barbara Green.

The Sixties

The sixties decade of women’s amateur golf belonged to Nancy Roth (Syms) who won the FWSHA Championship five times: 1960, 1963, 1965, 1966, and 1968.  In addition to our tournament, she won the Doherty, the North-South, the Southern, the Eastern and the British Ladies Amateur.  She played on two Curtis Cup teams during the sixties.  Maureen Crum placed second to Nancy three times in the Florida Women’s State Championship, finally winning at Ocala in 1967.

In October 1969, the FWSGA Tournament Manual was revised. At that time and for many years following, the most important person was the chairman of the host club. She was in charge of all the committees that were made of club members. The FWSGA loaned the host chairmen and committee $200.00 for operating expenses, which was to be repaid to the State Treasurer at the end of the tournament. The low 176 handicappers would qualify on the regular day specified and all over that would qualify on a date prior to that date. There were a lot of ladies and a lot of work to do!!

The Junior Girls Championship was begun in 1960. From 1960 through 1992, the Junior Girls Champions was held in conjunction with Junior Boys Invitation. During the sixties twice Robert Albers, Laura Maclvor, and Tammy Bowman won the girls championship.

The Seventies

It was Alice Dye’s turn to dominate the state amateur in the seventies.  Three times champion and one runner-up and who knows how much more she would have won except for several bouts of tendonitis, forcing her to withdraw from several events.

1970 - Elizabeth Pooley defeated Mrs. James P. Lee at Gainesville Country Club.

1971 - Tammy Bowman, after a stellar junior career, claimed victory at Sebring.

1972 - Nicki Reuterfeldt won at Port St. Lucie in 1972 at the St. Lucie Hilton Country Club Resort. At the annual business meeting, Mary Gilette Brown reported that the Junior Boys’ Invitational and the Girls State Championship would be held at Lehigh Acres in June of 1972.  At the Board meeting in 1972, Mrs. Guy Tucker, the President, urged all delegates to ask their clubs to use the new USGA formula for rating courses – the formula was total yardage divided by 180 plus 40.1.  

1973 - The Board chose Lehigh Acres for the site of 1973 Championship.  Emily Brown was the President of FWSGA.  Mildred Schwab, a former Broadway star, played in her 38th FWSGA tournament.  She first played in 1931 at Mt. Plymouth.  There were 213 entries to quality for the 176 spots in the tournament.  

Alice Dye, wife of noted golf course architect Pete Dye, emerged victorious after several very tenuous matches.  Her words after the final round against Nicki Reuterfeldt were, “I’ve played my heart out, and I’m beginning to think I should pay them more money for my entry fee because I’ve played so many holes.”  Alice Dye won the Indiana State Championship a record nine times and played on the 1970 Curtis Cup team.

1974 - Alice Dye defended her title again in 1974 at Sun City Center, again defeating Nicki Reuterfeldt.

1975 - It had been 20 years since FWSGA had journeyed to Pensacola for the state amateur.  The 45th annual tournament was held at Scenic Hills Country Club with the Holiday Inn as the host hotel with a rate of $8.50 per person double occupancy.  The dates were April 6-11 and the weather was horrendous most of the week. One of the players in FWSGA hit a ball so far it landed in the aquarium in the yard of a home.  But it couldn’t be rated a water hazard.  However, the way the weather’s been since the state golfers arrived has made almost every hole a water trap.  Evie Kirkland won on her home course, defeating Sylvia Ferdon 3 and 2 in the final match.  Mrs. Kirkland’s words after her victory were,” I’m glad all the excitement is over and I can get back to my husband, children and the ironing board.”

1976 - Pat Meyer won at Ocala over Chris Desch.  Pat started playing golf in 1971 and turned pro after winning her amateur state title.  

1977 - The championship was up for grabs in 1977 at Errol Estate in Apopka.  Leslie Shannon, after only six years of playing golf, had won the Connecticut State Amateur and then moved to Florida.  She defeated Karen Crews on the third hold of a sudden death playoff.  Twice during the tournament Leslie hit the 475-yard par five up hill sixth hole in two.

1978 - Debbie Raso defeated two-time champion Alice Dye at Golden Gate.

1979 - The fiftieth State Amateur was held at Ponce De Leon Country Club.  Celebrating the golden anniversary were 330 women trying to qualify for the 176 spots.  Two days of qualifying were held, one for the higher handicappers and one for the lower.  Julie Madison served as state president in 1979 and Winnie Holmes, our first president and first champion, was present at the Annual Banquet.  Alice Dye won her third title defeating Mindy Moore.  The most unusual match during the tournament was between Tammy Bowman and Mary Beth Murphy, with Bowman winning one up after a long 28 holes.

A little anecdote from this event: Two women were competing in one of the higher flights in the match play format when one of them tried to call the match on her opponent for using an outside agency.  Now what do you suppose that “outside agency” was?  Try a pacemaker.  That’s right, a pacemaker.  The motion was naturally denied.  What was the opponent suppose to do, shut the pacemaker off until she putted out on No. 18? Honest, it happened.  Really!

The Eighties

Michelle McGann dominated the State Junior Girls in the eighties, winning three consecutive championships in 1985, 1986, and 1987.

1980 - The eighties began with Leslie Shannon winning her second State Championship at Sun City Center with Betty Hilliard as the presiding president.

1981 - Mary Burnside began her two-year in 1981 with the State amateur held at Club Indigo in Daytona Beach.  Peggy Brass won the title at Indigo after seventeen tries – she defeated Lynda Brown 5 to 3.  In the semis, Peggy met Leslie Shannon, defeating her in the first hold of sudden death with a birdie.

At the annual business meeting held at Indigo, Mary Burnside told all those present about the invitation received from the Georgia Amateur Ladies Golf Association to participate in an annual interstate team match.  The Board accepted the invitation and approved the expenditure of $100 to send the ten lowest qualifiers in our State Tournament.  Thus, the Florida/Georgia matches began.  The team matches were held at the University of Georgia August 21-23, with Georgia emerging as the victor.

1982 - Lehigh Acres Country Club again hosted the State Amateur in 1982.  The theme was “The Round-up at Lehigh”.  All the local committee members wore western regalia and cowboy hats.  Patty Berg came to watch the tournament.  At the annual meeting, the site for the Florida/Georgia matches was decided, chosen to be Error Estates in Apopka.  Mary Burnside, the president, announced that the USGA is inaugurating a new course rating system that will be mandatory for all golf courses.  Directors were encouraged to attend a course rating seminar in Sarasota conducted by Death Knuth.  

Peggy Brass attempted to regain the title for the second year, but lost to Leslie Shannon in the semis, setting up a Shannon-Brown final.  Lynda Brown won the title on the 18th hole.

1983 - Leslie Shannon won her third State Amateur at Error Estates, defeating Sisi Hedges in the final match.  

1984 - Held at Sun ‘N Lake, Joan Ellis defeated Marlene Suslenka to claim the championship title.

1985 - The 56th State Amateur, with Palm Beach Polo Golf and Country Club as the site, was dedicated to the memory of “Winnie” Holmes, our founder, who passed away on February 10, 1985 at the age of 89.  Her son, John Jr. attended the awards presentation and brought the sterling sliver pitcher that his mother won in 1927.  John Jr. spoke to the ladies, sharing one of his mother’s favorite stories: “When she was playing at Hyde Park Golf Club, on the eighth hole a good par four, her second shot went into the cup. Two older ladies happened to see it. ‘Did you see that?’ one said. ‘That was super.’ ‘What is so good about it?’ the other one said. ‘She plays out here all the time.’”  

Leslie Shannon continued her winning ways be defeating Sisi Hedges once again for the fourth State Championship.

In the May 2, 1985 Florida Golf Week, Ron Balicki wrote, “The FWSGA has a class act. It is one that has deep, long-lasting roots and one the women of the state can take pride in. And it’s obvious they do. You don’t get a field of over 300 players if you run a second rate operation.”

1986 - Tammy Bowman won her second Amateur in 1986 at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club by defeating Joan Pirkle in the final match.

1987 - Leslie Shannon won her fifth championship at Grenelefe by defeating Tammy Bowman.

1988 - Pam McCloskey won at Amelia Island.

1989 - Andrea Dornin won her first championship at Saddlebrook in 1989.

The Nineties

The decade of the nineties proved to be the renaissance for the Florida Women’s State Golf Association.  Through the vision of a group of past presidents and directors, the process of incorporation was begun.  Countless hours were spent devising by-laws, and a policy and procedures manual to carry the Association forward.  This process, began under the leadership of Karen Korf, became reality in 1993 with Kaye Williams as president.  With incorporation came autonomy, and the FWSGA Board of Directors was finally able to make decisions at their scheduled meetings rather than waiting for an annual meeting of delegates each year.  The Directors, with their work throughout the state, were now covered by liability insurance.

In 1995, under the leadership of Betty Scott Forbes, individual memberships were offered.  Charter members, numbering approximately eight hundred, received a charter member pin.  Dues were $20.00, part of which went to the newly begun girls’ scholarship fund.  The individual members opened up a whole new support system.  Each member received a yearbook with information on all scheduled FWSGA events, as well as an additional quarterly newsletter, upcoming events, and fundraising efforts for the scholarship fund.  The scholarship fund grew quickly with the generous donations of several wonderful FWSGA supporters led by Michelle Bowman.

In 1997, under the presidency of Flo Godino, FWSGA hired its first executive director Judy Comella.  We now had a base of operations.  Judy’s home was in Lakeland.  Judy, with her dedication and enthusiasm, had definitely put the FWSGA on the map.  Her untiring efforts, along with the help of our eighteen Board members, had made the FWSGA well known throughout the Southeast.

Throughout the nineties directors attended rules schools, ran tournaments within their districts for individual members, conducted fundraisers for the scholarship fund, and worked all the tournaments sponsored by the FWSGA.

With incorporation and an Executive Director, the FWSGA tournament schedule grew by leaps and bounds.  The State Amateur was still the highlight of the year.  

1990 - Taffy Brower won her first title in 1990 at Plantation Country Club in Venice.

1991 - The first state four-ball tournament was held in 1991 with flight winners only.  The four-ball, still a tournament with gross and net winners, had become one of the most popular tournaments, with a full field necessitating the use of two golf courses.  

1992 - Leslie Shannon won her fifth title at Indigo lakes in Dayton Beach.  The first State Senior Match Play Championship was held at Mission Inn. Peggy Brass emerged the victor and continued to dominate the match play championship through 1995.

1993 - The State Junior Girls Championship became a girl’s only championship in 1993.  This even was held at Debary Country Club, with Cristie Kerr winning her first of three consecutive Girls’ Junior Championships.

1994 - Leslie Shannon won her sixth State Amateur title at Grenelefe in 1994.  The 1998-1999 president, Carolyn Greer, qualified for the championship flight only to meet Leslie in the first round of match play.  Carolyn gave Leslie a very good match.

1995 - The first State Stroke Play Championship was held at Walden Lakes.  The Board had decided that this championship would be the opportunity to show appreciation for past presidents and directors who had worked selflessly for FWSGA throughout the years.  The first day of the stroke play championship was designated as “The Appreciation Flight.”  Those past presidents and directors who wished to play in only the appreciation flight could do so. They were also honored at the banquet and presented with roses.

1996-1998 - The State Amateur continued to be the premier event with Marla Jemsek-Weeks winning three consecutive championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998. But this event, for many years the only one, was now the beginning of a wonderful summer filled with FWSGA activities.

1999 - Held at Black Diamond, Terrell Iitaliano defeated Robin Weiss for the State Amateur Match Play title.

The Millennium

2000 - Celebrating seventy four years, the FWSGA Amateur Championship was won fittingly by Taffy Brower, ten years after her first title at age fifty-six.  Barb Molloy won her second State Senior Championship while Sharon Gonsalves was the runner-up for the second time.  The Four-Ball was a great success at Mission Inn on two courses.  Tammy Carter won the State Junior Championship for the third straight year.  The Stroke Play Championship was won by Karen Ryan at Naples Beach Resort.  A new Mixed Championship, sponsored jointly by the FWSGA and FSGA, was a sell-out at Boca Grande.  The Junior Girls Scholarship Fund gave a record fourteen scholarships to deserving Florida girls.

2001 - A new state champion was named, Ann Pohira, with Taffy Brower as runner-up.  The tournament was held at Tiburon, a very difficult Greg Norman design in Naples.  Tina Miller of Miami, in her final year of eligibility, won the State Junior Girls Championship at Lake Buena Vista.

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