Club To Commemorate 50th Anniversary
Of Women's Am Final
Champion Streit, Runner-Up
Gunderson Carner To Play 'Friendly' 18-Hole Match Sept.
September 1, 2006
By David Shefter, USGA
Far Hills, N.J. - Fifty years ago a teenager had the
opportunity to pull off a rare double that had never been
achieved in USGA history. JoAnne Gunderson had just won the 1956
U.S. Girls' Junior title in Toledo, Ohio, on the last day of
August, defeating Clifford Ann Creed, 4 and 3, for the
|Marlene Stewart came back to deny JoAnne
Carner the chance to win the Girls' Junior and
Women's Amateur in the same summer. (USGA Photo
Three weeks later in Indianapolis, Gunderson found herself in
the 36-hole championship match of the U.S. Women's Amateur at
Meridian Hills Country Club. No player had ever won both the
Girls' Junior and Women's Amateur in the same summer, but
the 17-year-old high school senior-to-be from Kirkland, Wash.,
stood at the precipice of greatness when she met up with
22-year-old Canadian Marlene Stewart on Sept. 22.
Gunderson had a 4-up lead with 11 holes to play, but the
gritty Stewart rallied for a 2-and-1 victory, becoming the first
Canadian to claim the Women's Amateur title and just the
second golfer ever to win the women's national amateur titles
of the United States, Canada and Great Britain (Dorothy Campbell
Hurd was the other).
Ten years after that match, Gunderson would avenge that defeat
to Stewart (she is now 72) by winning the 1966 Women's
Amateur, the fourth of her five victories in that championship.
Today, the 67-year-old owns a total of eight USGA championships
and is the only female golfer to have won the U.S. Girls'
Junior, U.S. Women's Amateur and U.S. Women's Open (Tiger
Woods is the lone male to achieve the feat).
Together, Gunderson (now Gunderson Carner) and Stewart (now
Streit) have combined to win a whopping 12 USGA championships.
Both golfers have been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame,
with Streit being the first from her country to earn such a
So that's one reason why a group of Meridian Country Club
members wanted to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that match
by bringing both participants back for a ceremonial match. This
will take place 50 years to the date of the match, on Sept. 22,
with the course set up as close as feasibly possible to the way
it was in 1956.
It is believed to be the first time a club has done something
like this to commemorate a past USGA championship. Two years ago,
the Country Club of Detroit had a special gathering in honor of
Arnold Palmer's 50th anniversary of his 1954 U.S. Amateur
title, but that was a charity tournament with several past U.S.
Amateur champions present, including Phil Mickelson (1990), Ryan
Moore (2004) and Lanny Wadkins (1970).
"I want it to be real special," said Meridian C.C.
head pro Jack Barber, who has raised $4,000 for the event.
"It's something that no other club has done and
something we had an opportunity to do. We're very excited
Meridian is doing everything it can to set up the course like
it was for the 1956 final.
"We want it as similar as possible," said Judy
Muirhead, a Meridian member who also serves on the USGA Senior
Women's Amateur Championship Committee. "We want the
same yardage and we will try to have the same hole
The "friendly" 18-hole match - the competitors
aren't physically up to a 36-hole affair - will be open to
the public and commence at
"We want as many people as possible to come out,"
The female caddies will wear USGA bibs and a standard bearer
will keep track of the match's status. The players, because
of their age, will have the option to ride in a cart.
|Marlene Stewart, the first Canadian to
win the Women's Amateur, poses with the trophy. (USGA
A private dinner also is scheduled for the previous night and
club members, USGA officials and other invited guests can pay
between $25 and $30 to attend. Right now the plan is to donate
any extra proceeds to the Indiana Golf Foundation, which supports
many grass-roots junior programs.
Any living survivors of the 1956 U.S. Women's Amateur have
also been invited to the festivities. Indiana native Alice Dye, a
two-time USGA Senior Women's Amateur champion, has already
committed to be in attendance along with her husband, noted golf
course architect Pete Dye. The two semifinalists - Anne Quast
Sander and Ann Casey Johnstone - also have expressed interest in
coming. Sander went on to win three Women's Amateur titles
while Johnstone was the runner-up to Gunderson in the 1957
Women's Amateur at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento,
Rhonda Glenn of the USGA and a past Women's Amateur
participant will serve as the emcee.
Other noted participants from the '56 Women's Amateur
who are still living include 1954 Women's Amateur champion
Barbara Romack, five-time USGA Senior Women's Amateur
champion Carolyn Cudone and two-time Women's Amateur champion
Barbara McIntire (1959 and '64).
Dr. Trey Holland, a longtime Meridian member and former
president of the USGA, also plans to be in attendance, along with
noted Pine Needles proprietor Peggy Kirk Bell, whose club will
host its third U.S. Women's Open next summer.
Following her fifth and final Women's Amateur title in
1968, Carner, who also competed on four USA Curtis Cup teams,
decided to turn professional and joined the LPGA Tour in 1970.
She went on to capture 43 career titles (one as amateur in 1969),
including two U.S. Women's Opens in 1971 and '76.
Meanwhile, Streit has remained a lifelong amateur. Besides
reaching the 1966 Women's Amateur final, the Unionville,
Ontario, resident also has won three USGA Senior Women's
Amateur titles, including in 2003 at Barton Creek in Austin,
Texas, when at the age of 69 years, 6 months and 2 days, she
became the oldest USGA champion. She played 47 holes in one day
in defeating Marianne Towersey in the semifinals (24 holes) and
then Nancy Fitzgerald in the final (23 holes). At the age of 70,
she competed in the 2004 U.S. Women's Amateur for the 21st
Further information on the event can be obtained by calling
Meridian Hills C.C. at .
DavidShefteris a USGA staff writer. E-mail him with questions or
comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.