The list of pairings for the first edition of the Dinah Shore event offers a lesson in history

On the surface, it’s a mere roster of 40 female golfers, but a look at the tee times and pairings from the very first Dinah Shore tournament in 1972 reveals much more.

Discovered from the April 14, 1972, issue of The Desert Sun, the little piece of copy includes that day’s departure times with an advertisement for men’s hair pieces embedded inside. Apparently PS Barber Shop had a $4.50 special on “fluff-outs” that day (whatever they were).

But the list of tee times is a who’s who of the greatest players of all time. The 40 women who participated in this inaugural event, then called The Colgate Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle, included four of the LPGA’s founders and 13 World Golf Hall of Famers.

Let’s take a look:

  • 9:50 a.m.: Althea Darben, Pam Barnett
  • 10 a.m.: Mary Mills, Marlene Hagge
  • 10:10 a.m.: Sandra Haynie, Patty Berg, Beth Stone
  • 10:20 a.m.: Gloria Ehret, Kathy Farrer, Barbara Romack
  • 10:30 a.m.: Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright, Judy Kimball
  • 10:40 a.m.: Judy Rankin, Betsy Rawls, Peggy Wilson
  • 10:50 a.m.: Marilynn Smith, Louise Suggs, Cynthia Sullivan
  • 11 a.m.: Sue Berning, Sandra Spuzich, Murle Breer
  • 11:10 a.m.: Donna Young, Gerda Boykin, Jo Ann Prentice
  • 11:20 a.m.: Jane Blalock, Clifford Ann Creed, De De Owens
  • 11:30 a.m.: Margie Masters, Carol Mann, Betsy Cullen
  • 11:40 a.m.: Kathy Ahern, Kathy Cornelius, JoAnne Carner
  • 11:50 a.m.: Sandra Palmer, Jan Ferraris, Sandra Elliott
  • Midday: Ruth Jessen, Lesley Holbert, Pam Higgins

On Sunday, in what will be the final installment of this tournament after 51 years at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage before moving to Houston, Sandra Palmer saw the 1972 tee time list.

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She studied him, scanning each name, stopping at a few.

“Oh, Ruth Jessen, she was a good friend, there’s Clifford Ann Creed, there’s Barbara Womack,” she said. “So I played with Jan Ferraris and Sandra Elliott, I couldn’t have told you that.”

And then she got to the commercial for men’s hairpieces: “Hey! How did that get in there? Promoting a men’s thing in our tee times. It’s funny.”

Palmer said she didn’t remember much of golf that Friday in 1972, but she remembered fondly 1975. She won the tournament that year, leading edge to edge.

“It was very special and Dinah Shore was there, which was huge, but I also remember it was windy,” Palmer said of the historic day. “The course is very different now than it was then. Those trees you see now were very small and there were no houses around it. I remember one year I had my glasses silted up.”

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Palmer reiterated a refrain that many have been repeating for years. The tournament was not considered a major from 1972 to 1982 before officially becoming a major in 1983. She would like to see those first 11 installments retroactively considered a major.

“For me, it’s always been a major championship. It should be a major championship since that very first one in 1972 because the course design was difficult, and I mean look at those names,” she said. referring to pairings. “I mean, sure, I hope so, because I’m one of those winners, but this tournament was as important to me as the US Open in so many ways.”

Jane Blalock won the first Colgate-Dinah Shore Winners Circle LPGA Tournament at Mission Hills Country Club in 1972.

Here are a few more nuggets from those original chords:

–First on the list is none other than Althea Darben (better known as Althea Gibson), who is one of the greatest female athletes of all time and is said to have landed the first shot the history of this tournament.

–Jane Blalock won the event in three rounds over the weekend, finishing at 3-under to pocket $20,050.

— LPGA Founders in the Field: Patty Berg, Marlene Hagge, Marilynn Smith, Louise Suggs

— World Golf Hall of Fame members on course: Patty Berg, Marlene Hagge, Marilynn Smith, Louise Suggs, Sandra Haynie, Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright, Judy Rankin, JoAnne Carner, Betsy Rawls, Donna Young (Caponi) , Carol Mann and Sue Berning who was just inducted in March.

— Twelve of the 40 women died: Althea Darben, Patty Berg, Barbara Romack, Mickey Wright, Marilynn Smith, Louise Suggs, Cynthia Sullivan, Sandra Spuzich, DeDe Owens, Carol Mann, Kathy Ahern and Ruth Jessen.

Shad Powers is a columnist for The Desert Sun. Contact him at [email protected]

Joseph K. Bennett