Bio of Golfer Jo Ann Washam, LPGA Tour Winner

Golfer Jo Ann Washam
Jo Ann Washam played on the LPGA Tour in the 1970s and '80s and, in addition to several wins, holds another distinction: She was the first golfer in LPGA history to score two aces in the same tournament.

Date of birth: May 24, 1950

Place of birth: Auburn, Washington

Date of death: December 6, 2019

Nickname: JoJo

Washam's LPGA Tour Wins

Washam is credited with three official LPGA victories: She also won a pair of unofficial money events, both team tournaments: the 1976 Pepsi-Cola Mixed Team (better remembered as the JCPenney Classic and partnered by Chi Chi Rodriguez) and the 1979 Portland Ping Team Championship (partnered by Nancy Lopez).

In the Majors

Washam's best finish in a major championship was solo third place in the 1975 Women's PGA Championship (then called the LPGA Championship). In the others in which she played, her best finishes were for a tie for fifth in the 1979 U.S. Women's Open, a tie for sixth in the 1985 du Maurier Classic, and a tie for ninth in the 1983 ANA Inspiration.

More About Jo Ann Washam

Jo Ann Washam (her first name was sometimes spelled as one word, JoAnn) packed a punch in a small package. After Washam's death, Nancy Lopez remembered, "She could hit the ball a mile with her 5-foot-2, 125-pound frame." Washam was officially listed at 5-foot-3, but was one of the tour's bombers in her heyday.

Washam grew up playing tournaments in the Pacific Northwest. She learned the game playing with her father on what was then a 9-hole course but is now the 18-hole Auburn Country Club in Auburn, Washington.

She won the club championship of Auburn CC when she was 13. In 1967, Washam stepped up to victory in the Pacific Northwest Golf Association Girls' Amateur, then added the PNGA's Women's Amateur Championship titles in 1970 and 1971.

Washam played both golf and basketball at Washington State University, her attendance there made possible by a Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship. At WSU, Washam became the school's first athlete to play in national championships in two different sports. Later, in 1982, she was the first woman athlete inducted into the Washington State Athletics Hall of Fame.

She turned pro in 1973. In 1975 she was named the LPGA's Most Improved Player, for good reason: She won her first two tour titles that year — winning them back-to-back — and also had her best finish in a major.

In 1979, the year of her third and final LPGA win, Washam became the first golfer in LPGA history to score two holes-in-one in the same tournament. It happened at the 1979 Women's Kemper Open. She first aced the 16th hole, using a 5-iron from 165 yards, in the second round; then aced the seventh hole, using a 3-iron from 168 yards, in the final round.

That year Washam also teamed with Nancy Lopez to win an unofficial money team tournament. Washam befriended Lopez when Lopez burst onto the LPGA scene; they became roommates for a while and remained close friends until Washam's death.

But Lopez denied Washam several other shots at wins. Lopez's first win in her historic 1978 rookie season was by one stroke over runner-up Washam at the Bent Tree Classic. That same year, Washam was one of four golfers Lopez beat in a playoff at the Coca-Cola Classic. And Washam was runner-up to Lopez again at the 1980 Women's Kemper Open.

Washam's highest money-list finish was ninth in 1980, a year she didn't win but did have 12 Top 10 finishes. She was also in the Top 20 on the money list in 1975, 1978 and 1979.

Washam's final year playing a full schedule on the LPGA Tour was 1988. She ended that season with $633,499 in career earnings, which, at that point, ranked 30th on the LPGA all-time money list.

She made her final appearance in a tour event in 1995, then retired to Florida and became a golf instructor. But in her early 50s, four days after undergoing neck surgery to correct a longtime issue, Washam learned she needed open-heart surgery. She had six bypasses and was on a respirator for seven days, but ultimately pulled through.

Washam eventually was able to resume her teaching career back in her native Washington state.

In 2011, Washam was elected to the Pacific Northwest Golf Association Hall of Fame.

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