by Allie White
Not long ago England’s Dame Laura Davies was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. If you didn’t hear already, she wasn’t able to make the ceremony despite King Arnold Palmer’s best efforts to send her a private “pick-ya-up” jet. The induction was sadly scheduled just a day after the US Women’s Open and The Great Dame Laura Davies could not make it across the pond in time.
During my time as an alternate at the recent 2015 Open, I had the privilege of watching 51-year-old Hall of Famer Laura compete at the Open and reach the green in two on the par 5, Hole 7. With water on the right and an ever-anxious crowd watching, Laura stoically knocked it pin high while her two younger playing partners layed up.
With four major championships and a total of 84 professional career victories, she is one of the best ever. Not to mention her support and organization of a variety of charity events like the Evian Masters soccer game is pretty cool.
In 1987, she won the US Women’s Open in an 18 hole playoff over JoAnne Carner and Ayako Okamoto. Also pretty cool. But my favorite Laura Davies US Open moment… is a little different.
It was 2009, and I was 19 with one year of college under my belt. I was golfing great and I shot a 67 on my second 18 of the Open qualifier to make the US Women’s Open. That year the Open was in Bethlehem, Pa., with a stacked field that included Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer and Laura Davies. I was stoked.
The Sunday before the tournament I called over to the clubhouse to make a practice round tee time. I didn’t know too many people playing, so I told the folks at the shop to send me out there with whoever. They said see ya at 8:30 Tuesday.
So, my Dad and I got to the course Tuesday Morning and got in some warm up and then strolled over to the first tee. No big deal, just the Open. Well, who was there waiting for us but Suzann Pettersen, Sophie Gustafson, and Laura Davies. I remember thinking… “Right, deep breath. I got this. Holy bleep this is cool.”
The front nine was a combination of me thinking “wow this is awesome… they are really tall” while trying to figure out the golf course. Nothing too remarkable happened besides watching Laura tee off. I’ve never seen anybody tee off like that. On the tee, she would take a big old whack at the ground with an iron and then she would put the ball on top of the little mound she had created. After that she would take her mighty shoulders and just plaster driver off the deck into the outer limits of the atmosphere. Sweet.
It was on number ten fairway that I got a little bold. You see Laura, Sophie and Suzann had been gambling for 50 quid or so a hole. They were discussing their standings after the front nine. So I headed on over, and not being able to quite back up 50 quid, I asked Laura if she ever played for quarter skins. Well… she laughed. Laura Davies doesn’t mind gambling — like she stops at casinos all around the world kinda gambler… 25 cents was pretty laughable.
But, nevertheless she said, “Allie, I’ll tell ya what, we can play a match here on the back nine for five dollars. That’s only a couple quid. I think you can handle it.”
Then, she added to my Dad, “Besides I can get the money from the Bank of Allie here, if you don’t pay up”.
Well, I wasn’t planning on losing. So after what I remember as some pars and bogeys and maybe a birdie, I lost anyway… 2 down with one to play. Any my Dad, in typical Dad fashion said, “Well, aren’t ya gonna press?”
Suzzan said, “Yeah Allie, why don’t ya press?”
Laura was up ahead teeing off number 18 and I was finishing up on the green. When I finished I called ahead, “Hey Laura, I wanna press!”
She said, “Sure Allie, that’d be fine.”
I said, “Okay, where’d ya hit your drive?”
Laura, “280 — down the middle.”
Thank you to Dame Laura Davies for all she has done to make the game of golf so memorable for fans and rookies alike. A big congratulations on her induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame!
Allie White from Lancaster, Ohio, is a professional golfer and golf journalist. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Journalism at Ohio University. With four years of experience on the Symetra Tour, a cut-made at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open, and a 2016 Ohio Open Championship, White hopes to continue her golf career during her academic breaks.
Title image: The Evian Championship. Evian Resort, Evian Les Bains, France, 11-14 September 2014. Credit: Andre Engelmann