Dorothy Campbell’s Legacy

When it Really Was the Scottish Game – Dorothy Campbell’s Legacy

Once in a while, you’ve got to take a history lesson, not only to put your present views into a long-term perspective, but to learn stories about people who should never, ever be forgotten. When we view a national or era-bound group from its origins, it all makes more sense, and since we are always calling this passion of ours “The Scottish game,” it’s a good idea to ask why, this time, in terms of the great women who hailed from that country.

Apparently, Scotland had more than a mere contingent of female golfers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  They had an amateur association that was well-represented, of course, but one golfer stood out, absolutely everywhere women picked up a golf club. She is described as the first truly dominant international female golfer, and she happened to come from North Berwick, Scotland, where she began to swing a club before the age of two.

DorothyCampbellPortrait1909Dorothy Iona Campbell is sometimes known as Dorothy Hurd or Dorothy Howe, and to say that she won every amateur crown in Britain, the U.S. and Canada before she was done is a gross understatement, even though that total eventually came to eleven. It is safe to say that Campbell won everything there was to win, usually several times, eventually moving to Canada in 1910 and conquering everything there was to conquer there as well. Marrying for a second time, she found herself in South Carolina, the recipient of dual Scottish, American citizenship, and over 700 first prizes in a career…700 first prize finishes. Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978, it is a crying shame to know that she died in her early sixties after being struck by an oncoming train. All that concentration and coordination, and she just got caught looking the wrong way for a moment.
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Campbell’s legacy is a sure one, however, and her achievements were not isolated. Colleagues in the next three generations would follow her example, with a list that included Jessie Valentine (born 1915, died 2006) a long-time world number one ranked player. Isabella Robertson McCorkindale was a nine-time Curtis Cup player and winner of the British Ladies Amateur. Dale Reid, (born 1959) finished a brilliant career with twenty one wins, and Catherine Panton Lewis was a co-founder of the European Ladies Tour. These were joined by Moira Milton (1952-2012), a British Amateur winner and Curtis representative.
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One could say that Campbell’s professional granddaughters have not let the tradition down. Mhairi McKay became the first international player to receive a golf scholarship at Stanford University, Kathryn Christine Inrie was a regular Solheim participant who won the Jamie Farr in ’95, Meg Farquahr (1949) won the Moray Championships nine times and the Northern Counties five times, and Pamela Wright (b. ’64) had a great Solheim career.

dorothyHow times and customs change. The tightly pinned-up world has all but disappeared in Europe and the Americas, making way for Campbell’s dynamic great-granddaughters. Of these, Catriona Matthews is the most recognizable, as a serious contender in major events over the past few seasons. Carly Booth (born ’92) is the latest, the youngest to ever qualify for the European tour, and a contrarian to the famous Scottish reserve.
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Had Dorothy Iona Campbell lived ten or twenty years longer, as she well could have, the modern media would have picked up her story and image, she would have been honored by every governing body and tour in the world. And, rightly so, we would know beyond the shadow of a doubt, precisely who she was.

 

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