Carole Jo Kabler, who won the 1955 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship and enjoyed a successful professional career on the LPGA Tour, died on March 16 at the age of 78.
Born in Eugene, Ore., on June 11, 1938, Kabler enjoyed a fruitful junior and amateur career in the Pacific Northwest. She won the Oregon Girls’ Junior in 1954 and 1955 before earning what would be her greatest amateur victory at Florence (S.C.) Country Club in 1955.
The championship match of the 7th U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship featured a pair of Pacific Northwest natives. Kabler defeated future two-time champion Judy Eller in the Round of 16 before reaching the final against JoAnne Gunderson, who would win the championship a year later before claiming five U.S. Women’s Amateur and two U.S. Women’s Open titles in her hall-of-fame career.
Making four birdies over the first nine holes – and five overall – the then-17-year-old Kabler defeated the 16-year-old Carner, 4 and 3.
The two nearly squared off again two years later in the U.S. Women’s Amateur final at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, Calif., but Kabler lost in the semifinals to Anne Casey Johnstone, 7 and 6. Gunderson then beat Johnstone the next day, 8 and 6, in the 36-hole final.
Before turning professional in 1970, Kabler won the 1968 Women’s Trans National as well as the Oregon Women’s Amateur four times (1955, 1961, 1962, 1965).
As a professional, Carole Jo Skala (she was married to Mike Skala from 1958-1980), claimed four LPGA Tour titles, including three during the 1974 season following her first pro victory in the 1973 George Washington Classic.
She made 13 U.S. Women’s Open starts with her best showing a tie for seventh in 1982 at Del Paso. She competed in 22 USGA championships.
Following her marriage to Skala, Kabler married two-time U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Verne Callison, a tavern owner from Sacramento who died in 1993. Two years later, she married John Whitted Jr.
In 2009, she was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Association Hall of Fame.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.