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Amy Alcott

b. 1956

by Kathleen Thompson

One of the greats of women’s golf, Amy Alcott has had a long and illustrious career as a member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).

Amy Alcott was born February 22, 1956, in Kansas City, Missouri. She grew up in California, daughter of an orthodontist and a mother who imbued her daughter with a sense of life as art. Golf moved to the center of Alcott’s life when she was nine years old. Recognizing her remarkable talents, the local golf club allowed her special privileges on the course. In 1975, forgoing college, she joined the LPGA tour. From then until 1986, she was able to claim at least one tour victory every year. She has won four major championships, including three Nabisco Dinah Shore tournaments. In 1980, she won the U.S. Women’s Open by nine strokes.

Alcott has often been a high-spirited feature of the LPGA tour. Two of her three “Dinah” victories were celebrated with dives into a pond. When she was asked what she would do with her winnings from a tour event sponsored by the Archdiocese of Trenton, New Jersey, she joked about giving the money to the United Jewish Appeal. At the JAL Big Apple Classic in 1995, she played the last hole wearing a goofy hat complete with fake dreadlocks. But her life has also been marked by sadness. Her father died in 1981, when she was only twenty-five years old. Her mother died ten years later. It was after her mother’s death that Alcott took up painting as an avocation that would come to rival her dedication to golf.

In 1983, Alcott became the sixth golfer to win one million dollars on the LPGA tour. In each of three separate seasons (1979, 1980, and 1984), she won four tournaments. She has also won three of the four modern major championships, a feat exceeded only by Pat Bradley. In 1986, she was awarded the Founders Cup, which recognizes altruistic contributions to the betterment of society by an LPGA member. In 1988, she had her best year yet, with fifteen top-ten finishes and $292,349 in earnings. That year she became the third member of the LPGA to pass the two million dollar mark in earnings over a career.

That same year, Alcott began to attract an annoying sort of attention when it was realized that she was only three wins away from inclusion in the LPGA Hall of Fame. According to the rules of that organization, a golfer must win two major championships and more than twenty-nine tournaments for automatic inclusion. By 1991, Alcott had won two more tournaments, putting her only one win away. In 1995, the honor was proving elusive for three golfers—Alcott, Beth Daniel, and Betsy King. In that year, the closest Alcott came to a win was a tie for fifth. Still, it was one of only four winless seasons in her twenty years on the tour.

By 1996, King had won her place in the Hall of Fame, but Alcott and Daniel were still under the gun. Daniel had won thirty-one tournaments but only one major. Alcott had five majors and twenty-nine total. Whenever she competed, she would hear well-meaning fans say, “Come on Amy. You can win one more and get in.” The Hall of Fame issue put a considerable amount of pressure on Alcott, but she shunned sympathy. “It needs to be hard,” she said. “It should be tough.” But she went on to declare that the rules should be changed because “there’s nothing out there for the younger players to strive for.” She was referring to the fact that the number and quality of players had so increased that winning thirty tournaments for a golfer who joined the tour in the 1990s would be virtually impossible. She also declared in 1995, “In my mind, I had a hall-of-fame career five or six years ago.” A great many people agreed with her. So, ultimately, did the LPGA. Alcott was the first player to qualify under revised LPGA Hall of Fame eligibility criteria established in early 1999. That year, she became the first person since Betsy King to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame (along with Beth Daniel, who chose to participate in the 2000 induction) and the seventeenth woman overall. Alcott currently lives in Santa Monica, California, and is hoping for a career in broadcasting when she retires from golf.

Bibliography

Garrity, John. “Golf Plus: Not a Bad Life.” Sports Illustrated (October 2, 1995).

LPGA Profiles, Internet.

Molinet, Jason. “Alcott Makes Run for Hall of Fame.” Newsday, July 21, 1995.

“Beth Daniel, Betsy King and Amy Alcott.” Gannett News Service, June 12, 1995.

Schupak, Adam.“World Golf Hall of Famer Profile: Amy Alcott.” World Golf Village, 1999.

More on: Athletes

How to cite this page

Thompson, Kathleen. "Amy Alcott." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 31, 2014) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/alcott-amy>.

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