Some describe the early years of the LPGA as a traveling circus. For me, it was my neighborhood where I grew up and learned a lot about life.
I met my husband, Walter “Yippy” Rankin, at a Pro-Am when I was 21. He had played football and baseball at Texas Tech and coached high school football near his hometown of Midland, TX. We married 3 1/2 weeks after we met. All these years later, it’s still the best and most impulsive thing I’ve ever done!
I suppose Yippy and I matured together. I know he made me tough and a real competitor. And I always knew he was on my side.
Our son, another Walter (“Tuey”), was born in 1968. I won for the first time that year at the Corpus Christi Civitan Open. Yippy had gone to work for Aetna Insurance, and we realized it was a good time to travel as a family, long before Tuey started school. Again I leaned on my neighborhood - the LPGA Tour – to help with Tuey while we all played golf. This was long before the Smucker’s Child Development Center that LPGA moms use today. I relied on tournament directors, friends, and family members of other players to help us. It was certainly a community effort.
I went on to win 28 professional events over my playing career.
Then, in 1973 I developed what would become chronic back issues. I fought through it for 10 years before retiring in 1983.