Dinah Shore didn’t take up the game until the ripe age of 52, and by her own admission she was not a quick study. “Whenever I break 100 they send up a flare,” she once said. And yet Shore was an illuminating presence for women’s golf. Since 1972, her eponymous tournament has been one of the LPGA’s most visible.
Shore’s name helped insure network television coverage back when it was a precious commodity, which in turn helped her tournament set the curve for purse increases. Shore had such a lasting effect on the LPGA Tour that in 1994 she was posthumously made the only honorary member of its prestigious Hall of Fame. “This is not an honor given, it’s an honor earned,” then LPGA Commissioner Charles Mechem said.
Born Frances Rose Shore in Winchester, Tenn., in 1921 (the Dinah came from a New York disc jockey who forgot her name but remembered she sang a song entitled “Dinah”), she began her singing career in Memphis. She gained fame on the radio in the late 1930s in duets with Frank Sinatra and later Eddie Cantor’s show. She was one of America’s first television stars, first on “The Chevy Show,” which ran from 1951 to 1961, and later on the Dinah Shore Show, “Dinah’s Place,” and “Dinah!” She won 10 Emmy Awards, nine gold records and a Peabody Award.