ST. LOUIS – In the gallery this week at the 38th Curtis Cup is a Carnegie Mellon University professor who is not just a fan of women’s golf, but a historian on a mission.
Dr. Steve Schlossman has already interviewed more than 100 players from past USA Curtis Cup Teams and more than 40 from the Great Britain & Ireland side. The purpose is to compile the interviews into a comprehensive tome about the Curtis Cup, which he hopes to publish in time for the 2016 Match in Ireland.
My objective is to illuminate the Curtis Cup as one of the pioneer women’s sporting events, said Schlossman, who teaches history and public policy at the Pittsburgh-based university.
The Curtis Cup was one of the places women were allowed to compete at the highest level and it was one of the first global sports competitions for women other than the Olympics.
A golfer, Schlossman began teaching a university-level course on the history of golf at Carnegie Mellon in 2006. He invited 12-time Curtis Cup Team member and Pittsburgh native Carol Semple Thompson to speak to his class and she arrived dressed in the team uniform from 2006, when she served as Curtis Cup Team captain at Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon.
I didn’t know much about the Curtis Cup, but Carol brought her mother, Phyllis Semple, also a good player in her time, and Phyllis told me a history of the Curtis Cup needed to be written, said Schlossman. That was the beginning.
Schlossman ended up traveling to that 2006 Curtis Cup and the USA captain helped facilitate interviews with players, which began the research for his book. He also attended the Curtis Cup Match conducted on the Old Course at St. Andrews (Scotland) in 2008 and Essex Country Club in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., in 2010, along with this week’s event at St. Louis C.C..
I’ve learned these women are heroes we need to bring them into the mainstream of women’s sports, added Schlossman, who authored the book, Chasing Greatness: Johnny Miller, Arnold Palmer, and the Miracle at Oakmont in 2010.
As a golfer, Schlossman led Bayside High School to the PSAL Championship of New York in 1964. He also won the Association of Long Island Colleges Championship in 1966 and captained the Queens College golf team, whose home course was Bethpage Black, site of the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens.
Schlossman’s historical account will explore the history of the Curtis Cup dating from 1932 to 2014. He will include special sections on top female amateurs from 1954, 1956 and 1958, 1972 (Laura Baugh), 1986 and 1988 (won by GB&I), and 2004 (Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer).
A great body of Schlossman’s historical work centers around what he calls unheard voices in history. According to the professor, his current work on the Curtis Cup and its 38 matches is consistent with his overall objective in history.
Golf has been such a central place where women could make their mark, he said. I want to track the road these women took to reach the Curtis Cup in my book.
Lisa D. Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.