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Amy Alcott

b. February 22, 1956

by Kathleen Thompson
Last updated June 23, 2021

Hall of Fame golfer Amy Alcott, photo courtesy of Amy Alcott.

In Brief

One of the most fascinating figures in professional golf, Amy Alcott had a long and illustrious career as a member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). She won five major championships and is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. She also brought humor, color, and excitement to the LPGA tour. Now a successful golf course consultant, writer, sports broadcaster, and promoter of women’s golf, Alcott has written two books and has even made cameo appearances in film and on television.

One of the greats of women’s golf, Amy Alcott had a long and illustrious career as a member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), winning five major championships. She is now a successful golf course design consultant, part of a team that designed an Olympic golf course.

Becoming a Golfer

Amy Alcott was born February 22, 1956, in Kansas City, Missouri. She grew up in California, the daughter of an orthodontist father 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. On her nineteenth birthday, she won the Orange Blossom Classic. It was only her third LPGA event, and she was named Rookie of the Year. From then until 1986, she was able to claim at least one tour victory every year. She won four major championships, including three Nabisco Dinah Shore tournaments. In 1980, she won the U.S. Women’s Open by nine strokes.

Alcott was often 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.

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 also won three of the four modern major championships recognized during her playing career, a feat that was exceeded at the time 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, 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.

Hall of Fame

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 Hall of Fame. According to the rules of that organization at the time, a golfer was required to 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 Hall of Fame. Alcott was the first player to qualify under revised World Hall of Fame eligibility criteria established in early 1999. That year, she became the seventeenth woman to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame and the National Jewish Museum Sports Hall of Fame.

Writing, Television, and Consulting

Alcott’s first book, published in 1991, was Amy Alcott’s Guide to Women’s Golf. In 2010, she published: The Leaderboard: Conversations on Golf and Life, in which she interviewed twenty-seven celebrated golfers. That same year, she was featured, along with other golf giants in the book Golf’s Ultimate Eight: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Amy Alcott, and Other Golf Greats Reveal Favorite Holes to Create the Ultimate Fantasy Course, by Steve Eubanks. She also wrote the foreword to Marcia Chambers’ Unplayable Lie: The Untold Story of Women and Discrimination in American Golf.

In addition to playing on the Legends Tour, LPGA’s official seniors tour, Alcott was tournament presenter of the “Office Depot Championship Hosted by Amy Alcott,” from 2001 to 2004. She also became involved in golf course design and is now a highly successful consultant. With architect Gil Hanse, she designed the golf course in Rio de Janeiro that was the site of the 2016 Olympics.

A popular television commentator and writer for a variety of publication, Alcott went further afield to make cameo appearances in the film Tin Cup and the television shows Arliss and The Tracy Ullman Show. She even hosted a radio show called GolfChix for a while, starting in 2013. And she owns Katharine Hepburn’s golf cart.

Sports broadcaster Jim McKay once said of Alcott, “She is one of golf’s most gifted and intelligent professionals.” He went on to add, “And perhaps in all of sports.”  Writer Brian Heard, in his series on LPGA golfers commented, “Add in the word ‘interesting’ and that’s just about right.”

Bibliography

“Amy Alcott.” World Golf Hall of Fame. Accessed online 4/25/2020 at http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/amy-alcott/

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

Hauser, Melanie. “These Days, Amy Alcott Is Involved In Olympic Golf Course Design.” ESPN, July7, 2015. Accessed online 5/9/2020 https://www.espn.com/espnw/news-commentary/story/_/id/13217204/these-days-amy-alcott-involved-olympic-golf-course-design

Heard, Brian. “Amy Alcott: The Most Interesting Golfer in the World.” Women’s Golf Center, August 31, c. 2014. Accessed online 5/8/2020 https://womensgolfcenter.com/184/amy-alcott-the-most-interesting-golfer-in-the-world/

LPGA Profiles, Internet.

McAndrews, Anne Wallace. “The Key Is That You Love It.” Golf Living Magazine, September 2005, Accessed online  5/9/2020 at http://www.amyalcott.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/ALCOTT_GLM_TheKey.pdf

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.

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How to cite this page

Thompson, Kathleen. "Amy Alcott." Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. 23 June 2021. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 28, 2022) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/alcott-amy>.