Stars help WGA mark 60th anniversary

April 21, 1991|By John W. Stewart

It is one of the oldest women's golf associations in th country. It has weathered wars, big and small, and has, at different times, prospered under excellent leadership and survived in spite of itself.

This is the Women's Golf Association of Baltimore, and Thursday it celebrated its 60th anniversary with a luncheon attended by some 150 at the Suburban Club. The program featured Jim McKay as guest speaker, and included a nostalgic slide show with pictures of some of the organization's leading players through the years.

Yet, as it developed, the members were the real stars without even trying. It was a group that spanned the decades, from Elizabeth Janney Veale, a Green Spring Valley Hunt Club member and the last surviving charter member, to Susan Schuh of Hunt Valley Golf Club, one of the newest members.

Included were Evelyn Glick and Thelma Richards, former champions and now honorary members, and 10 past presidents dating back to 1956.

There was Mary Ann Downey Cooke, too, and it is unlikely any organization has had two players dominate a scene the way Glick and Cooke did for more than 30 years. Between them they won 61 WGA titles, stretching from 1946, when Glick won the first of her 10 Baltimore City (now called Metropolitan) titles, and Cooke, the first of her 13 WGA Championships, to 1978, when Cooke won her second Seniors crown.

Upon the occasion of the 25th anniversary celebration, Mrs. Stuart Patterson, a charter member, recalled the early days when the membership was limited to 50, the golf balls were a different size, and clubs had such names as jigger, lofter, and mashie.

From the eight founding clubs, the association has expanded to 17, and the membership has grown from 170 to 240. Sally Casey of Green Spring is the current president.

Not only is the WGA one of the nation's oldest women's golf groups, but it is truly a unique organization for none other has its members playing at a different course (sometimes two courses) weekly through the season. In addition, the WGA conducts four major championships -- the WGA Championship, Metropolitan, Oriole (handicap), and Seniors.

And, for those who think the current handicap index is something new, consider this:

In 1954, newspaper clippings noted talk of a pending course rating system with numerical values assigned to each hole to improve handicapping, although WGA members had already rated their courses. It was based on a degree of difficulty -- if you played a hole 10 times, how many birdies, pars, bogeys did you have? -- with an average score assigned each hole. And the WGA handicap limit for new members, which began at 35, now is down to an index of 13.5.

* The WGA will open its season Friday with one match (Bonnie View vs. Chestnut Ridge) in the Legg Trophy team competition. Play will continue each of the following three Fridays, and will include the Hutzler Trophy competition for the eight clubs with the lowest team handicap totals.

* Bob Ellet of Hunt Valley and Bob Bonnell of Elkridge, each of whom recently shot their ages (66 and 64, respectively) at their home courses, are entered in this week's Gittings Cup, an invitation senior four-ball event at LaQuinta, Calif. The field of 64 teams includes most of the top Seniors players in the country. . . . A field of 61 has entered the Middle Atlantic PGA pro-am at Rolling Road Golf Club tomorrow. . . . The Middle Atlantic Section PGA has expanded to include one club in Pennsylvania, Pleasant Valley GC, and its head professional, Bob Schuh. Schuh had held previous MAPGA membership while at Crofton CC and Lakewood CC.

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