Kraft Nabisco Championship
Mission Hills Country Club
Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Special Former Champion Press Conference
April 1, 2011
FORMER KRAFT CHAMPIONS: Amy Alcott, Kathy Whitworth, Betsy King, Pat Bradley
GABE CODDING: Tournament Director, Kraft Nabisco Championship: We want to welcome you guys today. My name is Gabe Codding. I'm the tournament director for the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and I'm very excited today because up here we have eight wins of the Kraft Nabisco Championship represented up here, and it was funny because Amy came into our office. We met with Amy back in probably June or July, and she says, you know ‑‑ when I was sitting with my team and we're thinking about what do we want to do for 40 years in staging and we're throwing around concepts, wouldn't it be great to have all the past champions come back, wouldn't it be great to ‑‑ what kind of celebration could we have? And then lo and behold, Amy comes into our office and says, man, I got this idea, I got this concept, here's what I want to do.
And to see it from what happened on the conference table months ago to see what it's become now is very, very exciting. So I want to introduce just when you look at what happened 40 years ago here when David Foster and Dinah Shore sat down to create such an amazing event.
And this is my 15th event and I'm still a rookie compared to all the history and everything that's happened here. But I want to welcome here today for our round table, I want to welcome on the end here Pat Bradley.
PAT BRADLEY: Thank you.
GABE CODDING: Who won our 1986 championship. Welcome here today. Thank you very much.
PAT BRADLEY: Thank you.
GABE CODDING: Betsy King, one of only three of our three‑time champions that won here first in 1987, won again in 1990, and then won my second year here in 1997, so I've actually had the privilege to see in person one of her amazing wins. So we have three‑time champion Betsy King here today.
We have a legend and one of the heroes of the game, amazing stats. We'd be here all day talking about it, but want to welcome Kathy Whitworth ‑‑ I'm sorry. I'm going to have to say this is the year I was born, 1977. I'm sorry.
KATHY WHITWORTH: Why?
GABE CODDING: An amazing year on a lot of fronts, but Kathy Whitworth, champion in 1977 and a hero of the game, and then Amy Alcott. What's really resonated with me, and I've been saying this in different interviews, I sat with Yani Tseng a couple months ago and we did our media day and we did some book pal readings, and she said, "I've dreamed of two things growing up in Taiwan. I always wanted to be either a professional golfer or a teacher," and she goes, "and I always dreamt of jumping in the lake." And what I thought about is we now have a generation of golfers that's all they've ever known when they think about the Kraft Nabisco or the Dinah Shore or the Colgate Winners Circle is jumping in the lake, and it really resonated with me. And to see a tradition itself that's been here 20 years now is an amazing tradition. So I want to welcome and thank you, Amy Alcott. (Applause).
So at this point we want to open it up. I have tons of questions, because to be able to get to moderate something like that, but want to open it up to any questions. Heather Daly‑Donofrio with the LPGA is here. She's got a microphone. We'll open it up to any questions and get the conversation started. I've got tons myself if there's a lack.
Q. I think it would be great if you would each tell us a little bit about what you're up to these days, what's floating your boat and what's really got you going about golf.
PAT BRADLEY: What's floating my boat is just the game itself. You know, I love the game of golf and I'm fortunate enough ‑‑ this is a game of a lifetime and I'm fortunate enough to live it every day.
I'm doing some corporate outings and some charity outings, which is always fun to do. And I'm sure you've heard that we're trying to get a legends tour going, and you know, that's a lot of fun. It keeps us busy. Of course, it's a slow process, but you know, you gotta start somewhere. The Championships Tour started 20 years ago with only one tournament.
But right now I'm just happy to be here and be a part of this celebration of 40 years. I'm very grateful for Amy and her team to put this together, and I'm looking forward tomorrow to have a great time. Thank you.
BETSY KING: I retired in September of '05, and I actually did not play any tournaments for almost five years and then came back and played my first Legends event about a year and a half ago at Innisbrook in Florida. So I play a few of the Legends events. And then since retiring I started a charity called Golf Fore Africa, and we're a nonprofit.
I've been to Africa I think about six times now, and we raise funds within the golf community to help children in Africa that have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV AIDS and poverty in their community.
I go at least once a year to see our projects. We've done projects in Kenya, Rwanda and Lesuto and I was there in December. And we've taken a few golfers with us to Africa. Juli Inkster went a couple of years ago, four years ago I think with her two daughters. Katherine Hull has gone with us, Reilley Rankin, Suzanne Strudwick, Renee Powell, and most recently Stacy Lewis with us with in December. So obviously I'm rooting for her a little bit this week.
And we've been very fortunate. We've had about 60 players that have helped us, LPGA players that have helped us either by playing in Pro Ams for us or donating to our Golf Fore Africa charity. We're also sponsoring about 60 kids through World Vision, through their child sponsorship, and there are a number of players that are involved in that as well.
So it's been obviously something very significant and meaningful in my life, and it's neat to ‑‑ I always felt when I was on the Tour that golf is such a charitable sport. Everybody ‑‑ you could probably play a charity outing every day of the year. There's something going on to help people. And I feel fortunate in using golf, something the community that I was a part of for 28 years and the players have been very supportive, and also we've had a few PGA players that have helped us as well, so I'm very thankful for that.
And I want to thank Amy for getting this going. It's fun to come back here. Obviously we all have special memories having won the event. I won twice before Amy instituted the jump into the lake, my one regret on Tour, not really, is that I didn't do a very good jump into the lake on the 18th hole. And it was kind of before everybody started ‑‑ I think one year on the telecast or something they replayed some of the jumps, and I think mine got voted the worst. So I'd like to have that opportunity again.
But thanks so much for coming out and I'm going to pass this on.
KATHY WHITWORTH Gosh, that's very interesting. I'm so glad to hear what you're doing, Betsy. I'm pretty much just ‑‑ they say what do you do now? I say I'm sort of living off my laurels. But I do as Pat does, I do some charity outings, and Pro Ams and things of that sort.
I tried teaching one time and it's too hard. So I gave that up. But I was involved with the Legends to some degree. And they instituted the ‑‑ well, Dr. Handa from Japan, who of course we're all thrilled that he's okay and have been very concerned about Japan and their people. But he got involved with the legends tour and has been really instrumental in getting this thing off the ground.
They have a Handa Cup named after him, and it's on the same premise as the Solheim, and as I was the first captain of the Solheim, I'm the first captain of the Handa. So I get to revisit that every year, and some of the players that I had on the first Solheim were on the Handa Cup as well. So it was kind of déjà vu. But I've had a great time with that.
And you know, I'm just very fortunate to be here. I love the game still, and am very grateful for my career. It was just a great ride. And I am too also very grateful that I won before Amy. Looking at that pond in those days, that was not a nice thought to look at. I don't even know how you got the nerve to do that.
And Amy, the one thing about having retired and being with these girls a little bit in a different environment, you get to know them a little bit as individuals and their personalities more, and you get a little closer to them. And I've had the privilege to do that with Pat and Betsy and Amy, of course, and JoAnne Carner and some of those that you competed against. We were all kind of in our own little world, so to speak. Then when you're in a different atmosphere and environment, it really has become quite a nice thing, and I'm enjoying that a lot.
Anyway, thanks to Amy. I can't think of anybody else that could have got this together, so we thank her for bringing us all back together, and I just hope I can get off the first tee tomorrow. (Laughs).
AMY ALCOTT: Thank you for your generosity and spirit. I guess you can all have a pretty good idea that life doesn't stop after you play on the LPGA Tour. I'm obviously excited about this event, the Fresh & Easy Dinah Shore Charity Pro Am, and I'm glad that it all worked out with Gabe that we can celebrate 40 great years of history of this event and Dinah Shore, who so many of us loved and was a big part of our life and the inspiration for this event going back to the days of Colgate.
So this is a real win‑win for I think everybody, for the galleries and for charities, two wonderful LA‑based charities for children and education, for the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets, for celebrating all of these great players that I've had the privilege of walking fairways and greens with, and to kind of bring them back into the fold for at least a day or two of fun and competition.
So this has been a wonderful thing for me to be involved with and to co-host, and I'm just really thrilled to be here with my friends, and thank you to Kraft for seeing the vision of this idea, and this is one of the things I'm doing. And I wrote a book a couple of years ago called "The Leaderboard," which was another venture into something different and getting to know people a little bit better. I really enjoyed the process of writing a book, so I'm an author and doing as everybody else does here, some charity pro ams and some things related to golf course design and architecture, some consulting work.
So I'm just really glad to be here and I'm glad that this event could come to fruition and that we're all going to have a lot of fun. We're bringing the best of the best of women's golf of the 60s ‑‑ well, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and a lot of them, a lot of players.
Anyway, this is a real treat, and I'm glad everybody's here.
Q. You're the last person I didn't cover here winning. You're the first person I did cover here winning in 1987. All four of you obviously this has been a big win in your career at some point. Could each of you just talk about what winning this tournament meant, and for Amy and Betsy, maybe what it meant to win it the first time of your three each, and maybe start with Pat over here.
PAT BRADLEY: Yes. I won in 1986, and I can start from the first hole if you want me to. (Laughs). But no, it was a wonderful win. I mean it was the first major, like it is today, on our schedule. And of course, as a player, you know, wins are wonderful, but majors are what it's all about.
And to be able to come here in March and win the first major was very rewarding, and of course, in that year of 1986 I represented Nabisco, so it was even extra special to be able to walk the fairways representing Nabisco.
But I remember it was kind of like a shoot‑out towards the end. I basically went back and forth with Val Skinner, and I remember distinctly on 17 Val had the honors and she hit it into 17, oh, I don't know, maybe three feet. And I had to look at that, and of course, I stepped up and knocked it in about a foot. And we both made birdie. And I knew 18 is such a pivotal golf hole, and I wasn't comfortable until my third shot landed on the green.
And then that walk around that pond is one of the greatest walks in golf. And when I walked over the bridge and saw Dinah at the other side to greet us all, and of course, you know, she gave me a hug, and that is something that I will cherish and always remember.
But yeah, winning a major is what it's all about. And I'm thrilled to have that on my resume. And other than that, can't get any sweeter.
KING: I was trying to think back, did I win in a playoff in '87? Was that the year? I can’t remember some of that. I know in the last round I holed it from the bunker, I think, on No. 16 for birdie and jumped up and down in the bunker and got flack for that. Like Bob Tway. So it was ‑‑ and then actually in the playoff we started on 15, and I knocked it right into the trees and had to just pitch it back out and got up and down from about 100 yards to save par and ended up winning on the next hole.
Patty (Sheehan), I think, three‑putted for bogey and I made par. So it was kind of ‑‑ I didn't think I'd necessarily be in a playoff, but it ended up well.
I agree with Pat, the walk onto 18 green in front of the stands for us as LPGA players is definitely the most famous walk we have in golf. And I consider this our Masters. You know, it's played on the same course every year, and it's the only major that doesn't move around now, and you know, we've been here 40 years.
And certainly Dinah was the celebrity who did the most for the LPGA. And all of us, you know, were fortunate to know her. One of the honors of winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship was that you got to play with Dinah the next year in the Pro Am. And I always looked forward to that. And once I won it the first time and got to play with her, the next year I knew that was one of the incentives for winning was that you get to play with her.
And she was always so gracious with the galleries. I don't know how she did it because she had a lot of people that wanted to get their picture taken with her or get their autograph, and she was just so gracious to everyone, and I thought I'm glad I'm not in a business that I depend so much on being nice to people. That wasn't my strong point at times, I have to say.
It's hard. I mean it's hard to compete and do all the things you need to do to be successful. You know, there isn't another professional sport where the fans are that close to you while you're competing. And I think people forget that. Can you imagine like you shoot a free throw and hey, stop and sign this autograph while you're running back down court. So really you get to see the athletes in a way that spectators in other sports don't have that opportunity.
But I really, Dinah just was so gracious, and when you're in show business, obviously that is your bread and butter, but it always amazed me that she was able to do that, and I think I felt like I learned some things from her with that. So thank you.
WHITWORTH: When I won it, it was the Colgate Dinah Shore. You know, even from the very beginning I think all of us thought of this tournament as a major championship, no matter that it wasn't. So winning this event was just a terrific thrill. I'd come close before and came close a few times later. But it was always great fun knowing we're going to compete and come and play in this event. And I too had the pleasure of playing with Dinah, and she had a TV show that we went on a couple of times, and I must say I was probably more remembered from that that winning, because I had to cook. And I made nachos. That was my claim to fame.
But it still is. It's just a wonderful event, like Betsy said, it's played on the same golf course, and the golf course, of course, has matured and gotten better and better every year. And we talked about some of the early years when we first started here we had to walk up 18 backwards because when the wind blew, we had a sand storm because there was no clubhouse, no homes around here, and the only thing that saw water was the fairways.
But you know, thinking back on those days it was still quite a wonderful ‑‑ Colgate and Mr. Foster really brought the LPGA into the 20th century. And it was our first big television, and we did commercials for Colgate with Dinah. So it was just a whole new world for all of us.
But you know, I just feel very fortunate that I was able to win, and I did get to play with Amy when she won one of hers and saw her hit it out of the trap on No. 12, little fairway bunker off to the right there and I mean it was a spectacular shot and it impressed the hell out of me.
So you know, and I've gotten to see Mickey win. I played with her when she won. So I got to see Judy Rankin win her event. So I was in the hunt, just couldn't get it over the finish line. But great memories, and like I said, I'm just so glad I didn't get to have to go in the water.
ALCOTT: Well, like everyone else, just so many really great memories, '83, '88, '91, I was telling Karen with the New York Times, my friend here, that I've always looked at winning golf tournaments kind of like a novel being written. You know, every week there's usually a new venue and a new cast of characters and a tournament kind of unfolds and in the end, you know, you have these wonderful events that take place and then the story kind of ends and then you're on to the next chapter and so forth and so on.
But you know, I guess '83 was, you know, a fabulous win here. And you know, as much as this event for me is about golf, it really is not about golf. I think it was my relationship because Dinah Shore did live in Los Angeles and you really didn't win this golf tournament without in a way developing a relationship with Dinah. She was just that kind of person, and I think that was why it was important to kind of have her name and bring back her into the title of our event tomorrow.
But you just ‑‑ she was just that kind of person, very radiant and always telling you, you know, thinking that women need more equality and getting on a plane and she would tell me she flew this direction to talk to this CEO as this event changed and different companies came on board as far as who ran Colgate or Kraft or Nabisco. She would always be telling them how important this was for their vendors and for their people. So I learned a lot from Dinah.
I would listen to her and she would pass along great wisdom about, you know, it's just kind of the way it is. Women have to dress better, they have to look better. And they have to really engender themselves to the public to get half the attention that men get. So she was kind of an iconic character, not just a hostess of a cooking show and as a great raconteur and talking to people and she just loved being the hostess of this event.
They always say the beauty of life is found in the making of friends, and Dinah Shore was like that to me, especially after I had won this event twice. And I saw her in Los Angeles in late 1990, and she said to me, you know, my mother had just passed away, quite young. And she told me that, I want to tell you two things. I want to tell you that you need to go out and win my tournament for the third time for your mother, because you used to tell me you were so close to her. You finished each other's sentences. So she remembered that. And she says, and if you can do that, I want you and I was always very jealous of your jump in the water in '88, and I want to jump in the water with you. And she just kind of threw that out there.
So I don't know how in life, other than when you think of Ben Crenshaw and Harvey Pennick, how stars align in life for professional athletes and major championships, but I showed up the week in '91 here with just this feeling of that my mother was just with me and Dinah was with me, and I just played into it, and as things unfolded during the week, I kind of went with it completely. And when bad things were happening, I was just doing amazing things.
And I walk up on the 18th fairway with an eight‑shot lead in a major tournament, going to win for my third time, and a woman runs over to my caddy and gives him, Bill Curry my mother's business card from an art gallery that she worked at in Carmel. And Bill said, look at this, it's meant to happen, kind of like just with that feeling. Then I looked all the way across the lake, and there was Dinah standing in black pants, and Dinah always wore white slacks with her Kraft jacket and she was always meticulously groomed. And I'm trying to win this major tournament, and there's Dinah, and I said Bill, I think Dinah Shore really does want to go in the water with us.
So the rest of the story is kind of history. I made a winning putt to set a tournament record, but you know, as much as winning here was about golf, it was really for me and my career about friendships with Dinah and my destiny, probably something that was supposed to happen. I feel very blessed to have had a great career, but it's the people sitting beside me, these wonderful champions and the friendships that I've met along the way and their great spirit that's been so important.
Q. This is a question for Betsy to continue along the lake, the jumping into the lake. You did not follow Amy's lead when you won in '90, but then you did in '97. So I was wondering what changed in that time.
WHITWORTH: The color of the water.
BETSY KING: I don't know. I think when Amy first went in it hadn't really become a tradition every year or something and then after that ‑‑ right. Amy was the first to go in, but it took a year or two I think before everybody started. Plus if you replay my jump, you'll know why I didn't go in more than once.
ALCOTT: We all know the Russian judge gave you a six.
BETSY KING: So that was why. I think at that point it wasn't a yearly deal.
BRADLEY: We came back to celebrate the 35th, and that was my opportunity to jump because they said that any past champion that did not do it with their win, they gave us an opportunity, and they had robes made for us with our name on it, and so the moment we all jumped in at that time, which I did, the lake was beautiful. It looked like one of the beautiful pools that we have in Palm Springs. I jumped and put on my gorgeous robe and felt terrific.
Q. When was that? When did you jump?
BETSY KING: I think it was five years ago.
GABE CODDING: It was 2006.
Q. Before? After the tournament?
GABE CODDING: It was Saturday afternoon when we dedicated the pond because our directing manager at the time wanted to dedicate it, and that's how it became Poppie's Pond, so it was dedicated to Terry Wilcox, and there's the plaque on the bridge.
Q. How many people jumped?
BRADLEY: Nancy Lopez did. I did.
ALCOTT: I wasn't there.
GABE CODDING: Sandra Palmer did. If you look in today's pairings guide, there's a picture of Pat Bradley, Terry Wilcox. There's a picture in today's pairings guide that had.
BRADLEY: I think there was like four or five of us.
GABE CODDING: There was maybe even more. There were probably 10 people. There's a great photo in the pairings guide that has everybody that jumped with the robe on.
ALCOTT: Whit was afraid to get her hair wet.
KATHY WHITWORTH: I love the water, but I don't like to get in it.
ALCOTT: Why don't you tell them the line about the two‑club wind. It's a standing joke, folks.
KATHY WHITWORTH: Yeah, it is. It is. Dottie Pepper started this. Well, you know ‑‑ maybe you don't know, but back in the old days we used to ‑‑ you know, every week everybody would go and get their hair done, and it was big hair time, and we'd all ‑‑ nobody wore hats or anything like that. And I just didn't want my hair to blow. You know, it bothered me.
So when I went out to play, I really slacked it down and put a lot of hair spray on it, made sure it didn't blow. I mean I didn't think anything about it. It was just the way it was. And so I think it was 2005 or 6, anyway, I was Jack's honoree at his tournament, and Dottie Pepper was there, and they asked Dottie to help present me and everything, and you know, that was really sweet. And she was doing a nice job, I thought, very complimentary.
And then she says, you know ‑‑ and I don't even know how it morphed into that, but she says, we had a saying on the Tour that if Whit's hair moved it was a two‑club wind. And I thought, man, what is ‑‑ how did my hair get into this.
ALCOTT: It was the Clairol wind tunnel test.
KATHY WHITWORTH: I mean to tell you. But she's right. If my hair moved, it was a hurricane wind. But if I'd have known that it was such a conversation piece in the locker room, I probably could have destroyed a few shots out there. You know, less hair spray or more hair spray, one or the other.
But anyway, that was the hair story, and I told Dottie later, I said, you know, you didn't do me any favors because now everybody wants to know about the hair story. So anyway, but that was just the way of it back in those days.
Q. While we reflect on hair spray in the 40 years' history of this great event, just wonder if we could throw it forward and for any or all of you up there, is there one particular change you would like to see in the women's professional game going forward?
KATHY WHITWORTH: Well, you know, I don't know about change, but you know, of course, I know they're struggling right now and you'd like to see them have more events. I mean I think that's a given. Everybody would like to see that.
Sure, they're working on that as hard as they can. You know, as far as ‑‑ I really don't ‑‑ I don't have any great thing that I would recommend that they do. It's just a process. Everybody works hard and do what they can to help it grow. And that's pretty much the way it was, as I remember when we first started was, you know, you just keep doing what you have to do to make it better, to make it more successful, and it just sort of evolves to that point. And that's what it evolved into from 1950 to what it is today. So everybody has to do their part.
That's the only thing I would ‑‑ I mean just as a former player and a fan, it would be ‑‑ I would like to see them play more over here in the States. Don't know if that's going to happen or if that's the way they need to go, but just personally that would be ‑‑ that's the only thing I would like to have them do.
ALCOTT: I think the Tour obviously has gone more global, both the PGA and the LPGA Tour, which is a great thing. And the LPGA has quite a few events over in Asia and other places. And I think that there's probably not a golfer in America that isn't awaiting some more great players to kind of embrace their stardom that are American players that we can root for.
As great as this Tour is and the talent that's out there, I think that that would be very helpful if so many of these good young players could win a few more majors and they're all out there and just kind of step up their game a bit and I think come to the forefront would be really great for the LPGA Tour, just in general terms.
But it's been a tough economy. Everybody knows that, and you know, there were so many great events during the years, even obviously when Whit prior that were community‑based golf tournaments that we played in Corning, New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. And many of us have even had events with our name on it like Betsy and myself in LA.
So it's just kind of a rebuilding process, and I know obviously Mike Whan and everybody is working hard to do that. And as Pat alluded to the same thing with the legends tour. I think it's a great product, the LPGA Tour. We have a lot of respect for these girls and women and how hard they work, and I think it's a great product, and there just needs to be more support and more companies coming in and realizing that.
BRADLEY: I think I've seen the change already with Mike Whan being our commissioner. He gets it. He has the passion and the dedication to bring the LPGA Tour back on top. So I've seen the change, and I'm very supportive and very happy to see what's happening.
KING: No comment. No. I agree with everything that's been said.
Q. As a continuation from there, could each of you speak to what you think are the highlights or the traditions that are really key and important in this event versus the other three majors that are played?
WHITWORTH: Well, I think the history is one of the things. I mean, of course, we always have had the LPGA Championship and the U.S. Open, and for a long time we had four majors, but then we didn't have but two for quite a few years. And then when this started in 1972 ‑‑ '71, it was ‑‑ even though it wasn't a major at that time, the format was very restrictive in a sense it was not a full field. You had to have won a tournament or finish in the top three in a tournament somewhere along the way. So it was a pretty limited field. So it had that feeling of major status, you might say, and of course, the television and so forth.
But it's evolved to this what it is today, the TV, I mean the players that have won, the past champions and the history of it is just so unique. Of course, it was one of our first celebrity‑named events with Dinah's name on it, which brought it a lot of attention.
And everybody knew the Dinah Shore. Everybody related to that. It's one thing to know the LPGA Championship, and as Betsy said, those events move around from different locations, different cities, which is good, too. Brings attention to whatever place or community or area of the country. But just everybody knows this event.
And you know, it's the Kraft Nabisco now, not the Dinah Shore. And a lot of us still call it the Dinah Shore, just habit. But it's something that everybody looks forward to and they know it's coming, and more so than I think most of our major championships.
So you know, I don't know. I'm sure there are other things that these girls could elaborate on, but that's what made it special and still makes it special, I think.
KING: I think, too, when it came on the Tour, it was the largest purse on Tour; right? I know at one time it was. So that obviously was something, and then the whole Hollywood feel with the celebrities playing, and I think what Kathy mentioned in order to get in you had to finish third or better in an event, I think, in the last three years.
I remember people choking coming down the stretch, you know, if they could finish third or better, that's Dinah. That was better than winning. They just said "Dinah." That was funny. Everybody said "Dinah," "I'm in Dinah." So that was another thing that made it special.
WHITWORTH: That resonated when the girls would go into the press room or when they would talk about it in other events, like if they did finish third or if they did finish the tournament, they said "and I get to go to the Dinah Shore." It was something that they told other events when they played well or when they got into the press room or something, they would talk about that. So I think that raised the level of awareness. No other tournament has that.
BRADLEY: I remember when I got into the Dinah, it was ‑‑ we were playing in Jacksonville, Florida, and it was frightfully cold, and gees, you know, we had problems back then, too. We had a sponsor that didn't pay all the money. But I could care less. I got into Dinah. I finished third. I didn't care about the money. I got into Dinah.
ALCOTT: I remember ‑‑ you know, I came out and won my third tournament I ever played in as a pro on my rookie year three weeks after I made my card, which was like some kind of huge record. And somebody walked –
WHITWORTH I couldn't believe you did that.
ALCOTT: And somebody said now you're eligible for the Dinah Shore, and I'm going, what's that? I'm just on my 19th birthday, and it was going to be here in my own backyard here in Palm Springs, and I lived up in west Los Angeles. So I finished 15th in it, and it was just the pageantry of it all.
You know, we're talking about the Tour, professional golf. I think the beauty of this event was that it had a major corporate sponsor. It had Dinah Shore. It had the celebrity to it. It had this amazing environment of the desert. It really kind of rocked on all cylinders. And I think that's what's really made this event so great.
People would come up and say, what would you rather win, the U.S. Open or the Dinah Shore? And it's a tough one to pick. Obviously with the long‑standing class of winning a U.S. Open and the tradition of it, that's pretty great, but this kind of was everything all kind of rolled into one.
So it was always kind of difficult to say which one was more important. But this one was an event that just developed over time even with all the different sponsors. And you go up and everybody wants to obviously win it and jump in the water and all of that.
Q. I know Pat has told me she would really like to see the USGA hold a Senior Women's Open, and I'm just wondering, Amy and Betsy, if that is something that would get your competitive juices flowing and help perhaps your other endeavors.
BETSY KING: I hope they do that. I actually played with a USGA official earlier this year, and I mentioned it to her. I think I waited till about the tenth hole, and she goes, "I was wondering when you were going to bring that up." So I think the USGA is well aware of how we feel about it, and for whatever reason they haven't done that yet, but if you have any pull there, please pull for us. We would all like to come out and have that opportunity.
There is a U. S. Senior Women's Amateur and Men's Senior Open. And you know, I said to her it doesn't have to be on a large scale. We just would like to have an opportunity to compete for senior open championship. And I know that certainly the event would get full support of the players, and I think they'd be surprised at the level of play and maybe even on the interest that would be created by the event.
ALCOTT: Yeah. I agree. I had written letters 10, 12 years ago to just the head of the women's committee and to David Faye, and I just thought it would be ‑‑ it's kind of the right thing to do. There were so many great champions and you would look at the Women's Open criteria list and it goes down to like all the different exemptions, the Public Links all the different exemptions that the USGA allows criteria to play in an open.
There was never anything in there for an active Hall‑of‑Famer, somebody that I think would garner a lot of attention for the U.S. Open, a JoAnne Carner or somebody that was still active in playing, Betsy King, Pat Bradley, Whit, somebody that really still maybe had the game going.
And I thought that that would bring a lot to a Women's Open at Oakmont. And then I thought, after that push it was kind of just a letter saying and supporting what other players, what we would talk about is there should be a U. S. Senior Women's Open. So it obviously gets down to dollars and cents.
BRADLEY: You know, Betsy says the USGA says wondering when you were going to ask it, well, I went to three annual meetings. I went to Colorado. I went to Santa Barbara, and I went to San Francisco and to try to make a little bit of my case, and of course, when they saw me, they all did about‑face and went the opposite way.
But you know, it's not all about money. It's the principle. It's the opportunity for us, for our age group to have a chance to go for a national title like the men. And you know, we can almost make it a little bit more simpler. You know, there are golf courses in the country that have more than one course. Like this year they're going to Hershey, Pennsylvania to play the Women's Senior Amateur. Well, there's two courses there. Why can't one course be for the women's senior pros and the other course for the women's senior amateurs? They do their thing and we do our thing and on Sunday give out two trophies. Hello. Two titles. How tough is that? But it's all about the money.
ALCOTT: And just to add to that, upcoming I think at Pinehurst they're hosting on two different golf courses the U.S. Open. What year is that coming up, the men's open and the Women's Open are going to be played at Pinehurst at the same time.
KING: I think they're back to back.
ALCOTT: Back to back. Different years? Same year.
Q. This is to follow on that. Last year at least one woman tried to qualify for the U. S. Senior Men's Open as sort of a principled stand on this whole issue. I guess Betsy, Amy, I mean even, I don't know, Pat, have you guys ever contemplated that, just to sort of make your point in a very public way?
ALCOTT: No, I didn't do that. I figured there was enough golf at the time to play.
BRADLEY: It was Martha Nause that sent in the application. I didn't know she was doing that. And you know, we were kind of like thinking maybe we should send in an entry, and then the next thing we know Martha had done it. So bless her heart, I tip my cap to Martha. She gave it the good college try.
Q. Can you talk about Stacy in Africa and maybe any good anecdotes and kind of what you learned about her being in a totally different environment with her?
BETSY KING: I didn't really know Stacy that well, and she and her mom went with us to Africa, and I think it was life changing for her. I mean I hope she has the opportunity to talk about it, but she had the opportunity in Rwanda, as I mentioned we were sponsoring children, and I can't remember her little girl's name, but we had the opportunity to go and visit the family, saw the house where she's living, and Stacy, you know, we just ‑‑ it was like 30 or 40 dollars.
We bought a goat for the family. They live in a little field in Rwanda and as most people are, they're subsistent farmers where they're growing their own food and met both the parents. She had a little baby. I have plenty of pictures I can show you, but I think that probably was a very moving experience for her, and I think it was one that my dream in taking players to Africa was just to try to open their eyes, you know, that there is ‑‑ when we travel we're always at the highest end and see the most beautiful places, and you know, we're there where all the money is and if you can open the eyes of some of the players ‑‑ I know at one point when I was playing, I thought maybe I can't devote my time to other things, but in looking back on it, it kept me grounded. It made it easier to play.
I felt at times where if you have a cause greater than yourself that you're playing for, you know, it's very helpful. And I think Stacy, I'm very impressed by her because I think she's going to do well on the Tour and yet at a young age to want to have an opportunity like that and expand her life skill or her life look is great.
And I would say probably visiting her sponsored child would be the highlight. We also had a Christmas party for the kids where we took backpacks over there with hygiene items and school supplies, and each child received the backpack and we presented those to them. But I won't speak for her. I'll let her speak for herself on it.
Q. Every year the players come in here the one thing they talk about is how much they enjoy coming to this golf course. Obviously you've all won on this golf course in different stages of maturity for the golf course. Could you each just quickly give us something about what made this golf course maybe your Augusta, if you will?
PAT BRADLEY: Well, in ‑‑ you know, I started coming here in the mid 70s I played the Triple Crown here one year. But yes, the maturity has been incredible. I remember distinctly the sixth hole where you have to drive over ‑‑ you have to hit it into that little island. And there were the two palm trees, and we used to be able to hit a field goal right through the two palm trees.
Well, we would come, you know, a few years later, and of course, they put two straight palm trees right in the middle. So now you had to really position your drive, you know, so that you either had to hit it way left and worry that it would stop before it went over to the water or you had to hit it way to the right, because now you couldn't hit that field goal and have, you know, just a perfect view, you know, to the green.
The other thing over the years is like No. 9 we could cut the corner on No. 9, but as those eucalyptus grew and grew and then started to tilt and hang over, there was a lot of, you know, over the years hanging on a lot of the trees where you really had ‑‑ you couldn't cut off that much like we used to in the early days.
But the one thing that this golf course and that I truly loved was that it tested you from start to finish. You know, you couldn't feel, oh, I got by the first five holes, now I can relax. You couldn't think that way. Or you know, I got the front side behind me and I can just cruise on the back.
This golf course got your attention from the moment you left the first tee till you sank that putt on 18. So I always loved that challenge, and of course, you know, the weather was 99 percent of the time it was absolutely gorgeous, and it was always in the greatest of shape.
We knew when we came here that it was going to be in major condition and that people put a lot of time in showcasing our talents because of the way the golf course was set up. So it was always a thrill to come here. It was just the best.
BETSY KING: Yeah, I agree with Pat. I think the golf course, it was one of my favorites and it always was in such good shape. The conditions tended to vary a little bit depending on how much rain they got in the winter. You know, if it had been a really dry winter, sometimes the rough wasn't as thick or as long, but the greens always were firm and fast, and it was a test of your game.
I know for me personally I started thinking back on every hole I've hit it out of bounds, you know, just because we've played here so much, I've hit it out of bounds on one and two and three and six. Literally you start ‑‑ that's one of the things of growing older, you remember all the bad shots. But it always was really in great condition and a challenging golf course.
WHITWORTH: Not all in the same round, I hope. That's a tough start. Well, I have to say, I think so, too. I think each hole is different. It has its own character, and I think that's what these girls are saying is that each hole has its own idiosyncrasy and you have to be careful about certain parts of it and so there's no breather, so to speak.
But to me that's what made it more fun to play, but it was easier to concentrate, I think, when you've got each hole presents its own challenge, so you can't ‑‑ you've gotta focus on going forward. And again, it keeps your attention all the way through, I think, and so I think it's of course matured. It's getting in better shape.
We were talking last night about with the wind blowing at times going down No. 18, I always knew if I could get it to the 150 mark with the wind dead into us, I could go more.
ALCOTT: You could hook a 3‑iron in there.
WHITWORTH: And that's what I did. Sit there and have to hit a 3‑iron into that 18th hole was a pretty scary thing.
But there's just certain things that you remember about a hole that you played that created a challenge for you. I mean they're all unique and I think that's what's made this, I think that's probably why the girls enjoy playing out here.
ALCOTT: And I think the wind is always a major factor here. I mean it was in especially one of my wins. And you know, it's just ‑‑ the golf course is in great shape. It has a great flow of holes to it and those finishing holes are always very difficult. 15, 16, 17 and 18 coming down the stretch.
You know, 15, you gotta hit it pretty straight off the tee and really be focused, and the 16th hole has changed a lot. They've tightened that up. They've lengthened that hole where it used to be much shorter and you could drive it down there almost past the big tree on the right.
But anyway, it's a golf course that kind of like there's courses for horses that I have great memories because it suited my game. But you really have to know how to play in the wind here because that's when the scores go up and you see it come through that valley over there and that pass. I can remember in '88 the pins were literally bent over and brushing on the green. I mean it's like playing in Scotland in the wintertime.
And I want to just mention something about Pat Bradley about once you get past the first five holes you can cruise. I've never seen Pat Bradley cruise. Pat won the Canadian Open up at the Board of Trade Club. You've won all four majors, Pat?
PAT BRADLEY: Yes.
ALCOTT: Okay. And she just hung in there so brilliantly, and anyway, I don't think she's ever cruised through a round of golf, but you have to obviously have a pretty good mind to do it, so we're wishing everybody this week a lot of luck.
GABE CODDING: All right. I want to thank you ladies. I've been at this event 15 years. I've basically grown up here. I've got two daughters at home, so I'm surrounded by women all the time, and I love it. And this event has such a rich history and you each bring such an amazing uniqueness to that, and so we just honor you as past championships. We honor you for what you've done for the game.
And there's a buzz around the community because there's been some of that that's been missing from this event and that we really wanted to hone in on and pay focus, so Amy, thank you for all that you've done. Those of you that have organized events see what's gone in the last couple months. It's a big undertaking, especially something of that size.
AMY ALCOTT: Can I just mention, we have so many of our great former championships of the Colgate Dinah Shore Kraft Nabisco. But a lot of our field is also we have several great players that have never won this tournament, that were at the pinnacle of the LPGA. Hollis Stacy is playing, three‑time U.S. Open champion and Susie Berning, who teaches here locally, is a three‑time Open championship. So we're just kind of paying tribute to ‑‑ as an example Dottie Pepper wanted to be here, but she's in Houston doing the golf telecast. And Jane Blalock is here, founder and CEO of the Legends Tour and one of the early winners, so we've got a great group of the top women that not just this tournament, but that were at the forefront of the LPGA.
GABE CODDING: That's right. True legends, so we want to thank you very much. And it's going to be a great day. So thank you very much for being here.
Topics: Kraft Nabisco Championship