Earlier this week we heard the sad news that Mickey Wright, one of golf’s leading female players, passed away in Fort Lauderdale at the age of 85. As with many older athletes, her name was not that familiar to the younger generation. In reading of Mickey’s accomplishments however, I was struck at how iconic her achievements really were in the world of golf, especially ladies golf.Mickey’s career spanned decades, and during that time she won13 Majors and collected 82 Victories. She started playing at the ripe young age of 11 and at 17 she won the USGA Girls Junior Championship. In 1999 the AP named her the Female Golfer of the Century-that’s right the Century! Ben Hogan was once quoted as saying “She had the best swing he had ever seen, male or female”.
As I read about Ms. Wright’s career I kept ruminating on just how difficult it must have been for her back in the 1950’s and 1960’s to break into women’s golf. Rarely do we as a society stop long enough to appreciate the hard work, the strong backbone and the guts of steel the women who came before us must have had as they honed their skills at the sport of their choosing. Were the tournaments she participated in televised? Was the purse of the tournaments she played in equal to her male counterparts? Were there large crowds on hand to watch her play? More than likely the answer to these questions is a resounding “no.”
When our daughters and granddaughters participate in sports today it would be beneficial to take a moment to share with them the names and stories of those that came before them, those who made it possible for them to play at the level they are offered today. To Mickey Wright, Billie Jean King, Danica Patrick, Nancy Lieberman-Cline and many other female athletes the world over we say thank you. Thank you for sticking with the sport you love in what was certain adversity, thank you for your courage, your foresight and above all else your dedication. And to Mickey Wright we say Rest in Peace.