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Female athlete and superstar Mildred Ella Didrikson in the golf world
One of the most popular and legendary female golfers of all time was Mildred Ella Didrikson, nickname ‘Babe’ after the legendary American baseball player Babe Ruth. Born in 1911 she soon turned out to be an exceptionally gifted and versatile athlete. Starting off as a baseball player in high school, she later turned to athletics, in which she won two Olympic gold medals in the javelin and eighty-meter hurdles with new world records.
‘Babe’ started playing golf in 1935 at the age of 24 and even met her husband George Zaharias through this sport in 1938, when qualifying for a professional men’s tournament in Los Angeles. Zaharias was a well-known professional wrestler and sports promoter and so he did not only became her husband, but also her manager. With him by her side, she regained her amateur status in 1943 and promptly won seventeen tournaments in a row! In 1947 she turned professional again and the year after she helped set up the LPGA to make a circuit of tournaments for professional female golfers, of which she herself became the leading money winner between 1949 and 1951.
Besides this exceptional golf career, Babe Zaharias Didrikson also had an exceptional life off the course. In 1953 she underwent an operation to remove cancerous tissue but already competed in a tournament only fourteen weeks after. With her buoyant personality and star status she continued her courageous battle against cancer through playing in fund benefits and establishing a fund, which financed a tumour clinic. Besides that she also played tournament golf and won five tournaments in 1954, but was forced to go back to hospital the next year. In 1956 she died at the age of 45.
Nowadays Babe Zaharias Didrikson is still known throughout the world for her athletic performances in golf and other sports as well as for her celebrity status. She was one of the first women in golf to become a star and work the gallery. She enjoyed entertaining the crowds and always wowed them with her virtuosity, but she also had the goods to back up he stardom with 82 victories in her amateur and professional career including the prestigious British Ladies’ Amateur Championship, the World Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open. Zaharias Didrikson’s story, both on and off the golf course, has touched many people and is very inspirational to me as a young professional. Her list of achievements is great but her personality and fighting spirit is even more admirable!
Which golfer has inspired you?
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