Thank goodness for a phone call from Sports Illustrated, otherwise women’s golf may never have been blessed with one of its most respected figures.
As Judy Rankin recounts the story, she quit golf at 16 after losing in the second round of the British Women’s Amateur. She had started playing golf at age six under the guidance of her father. Her prolific amateur career included winning the Missouri Amateur as a 14-year-old and being the youngest low amateur at the U.S. Women’s Open at the age of 15 in 1960.
Two weeks after putting away her clubs in exchange for a fishing rod, Rankin received a call from Sports Illustrated wondering if she planned on competing in the U.S. Women’s Open because they wanted to publish her picture on the magazine’s cover. A Hall of Fame career suddenly was re-ignited.
Rankin is the first LPGA player voted into the Hall of Fame via the Veterans Category, which was created in February 1999. Rankin received the necessary two-thirds vote of the LPGA tournament division to become the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame’s 18th member.