Brigitte Varangot, European Amateur Golf Star

Brigitte Varangot was a French golfer who was one of the best women golfers in Europe in the 1960s. Because there was no professional golf tour for women in Europe at that time, Varangot played as an amateur. And she won many titles in her native France, plus in the U.K., including the biggest title available to European women golfers at that time, the British Women's Amateur Championship.

Date of birth: May 1, 1940

Place of birth: Biarritz, France

Date and place of death: October 12, 2007 in Biarritz, France

Her Biggest Wins

In junior golf, Varangot won her own plus Britain's girls titles:
  • 1957 British Girls Amateur Championship
  • 1959 French International Junior Girls
  • 1960 French International Junior Girls
  • 1961 French International Junior Girls
In amateur championships, she won many titles in France and Britain, plus one in Italy and one in the United States (this list is probably incomplete):
  • 1959 French Ladies National Championship
  • 1961 French Ladies National Championship
  • 1961 French International Ladies Amateur
  • 1962 French International Ladies Amateur
  • 1962 Palm Beach Women's Championship
  • 1963 French Ladies National Championship
  • 1963 British Women's Amateur Championship
  • 1964 French International Ladies Amateur
  • 1965 British Women's Amateur Championship
  • 1965 French International Ladies Amateur
  • 1966 French International Ladies Amateur
  • 1968 British Women's Amateur Championship
  • 1970 French Ladies National Championship
  • 1970 Italian International Ladies Amateur
  • 1973 French International Ladies Amateur

Varangot in the British Women's Amateur

Varangot was a three-time winner of the British Women's Amateur Championship — only two golfers (Cecil Leitch and Joyce Wethered) won more. Varangot is one of seven golfers who won the British Women's Am three or more times, but she is the most-recent to do so.

Her first win was at Royal County Down in 1963, when she defeated Philomena Garvey in the championship match, 3 and 1. News reports at the time reported Varangot won that championship match while "fighting off an attack of tonsillitis." In 1965, at St. Andrews Links, Varangot beat Belle McCorkindale Robertson in the final, 4 and 3. And in 1968, at Walton Heath, she won the championship match over Claudine Clos-Rubin. Varangot made a 10-foot putt on the 18th green to square that match, then won it on the second extra hole.

More About Brigitte Varangot

"On most days, she is the best woman golfer on the Continent," Herbert Warren Wind wrote about Brigitte Varangot in the mid-1960s, describing her as "blond and athletic."

An article in the newsletter of The British Golf Collectors Society referred to Varangot's "jaunty walk," and Peter Alliss (who was clearly a fan) once wrote of her "moving seductively around the course, usually with a Gauloise between her lips." (A Gauloise was a skinny French cigarette that was associated with European cool, back when cigarettes were considered cool.)

Varangot was known as a golfer who hated to practice. Perhaps that is why she was mostly self-taught in the game, taking only a handful of formal golf lessons when young. She did greatly benefit, however, from the tutelage of Lally Segard, aka the Vicomtesse de Saint Sauveur. Like Varangot later became, Segard was a French winner of the British Women's Amateur. Segard went on to found the Women's World Amateur Team Championship (aka the Espirito Santo Trophy), and was a mentor to multiple young French golfers in the 1950s and 1960s, including Varangot.

Varangot herself later became known as someone who was always generous with her time in helping young French golfers along.

As a golfer, Varangot was known for a great wedge game, particularly bunker play and chipping around the green. She had a three-quarter swing and typically played a fade.

Varangot first came to prominence when, as Segard's protege, she won the British Girls title at age 17 in 1957. She reached the championship match again the following year.

And Varangot won often in the decade to come. Those victories included four French Close Amateurs (aka the French Ladies National Championship) and six French Open Amateurs (aka the French International Ladies). In addition to her four French Close titles, she reached the championship match five other times. In the French Open Amateur, Varangot was in the championship match every year from 1960 through 1967 (and lost in the title match in 1970 before her final win in 1973).

Varangot did not play much in the United States, but did make a few trips over. In 1962, she defeated Ann Casey Johnstone to win the annual Palm Beach women's amateur tournament in Florida. She entered the U.S. Women's Amateur a few times, but never advanced past the second round. That included a first-round loss in 1965 to three-time champion Anne Quast.

Varangot was well-known enough that when the producers of Shell's Wonderful World of Golf decided to showcase women golfers for the first time, they chose Varangot to take on American LPGA star Mickey Wright. That episode aired in 1964.

Varangot also made her mark in team events, helping Team France win the European Ladies Team Championship in 1959, 1961 and 1969. And in the Epirito Santo Trophy, Varangot led Team France to the inaugural championship in 1964, and also played in the 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972 and 1974 tournaments. She also played for the Continental Team vs. Great Britain & Ireland in the Vagliono Trophy in 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1969 and 1971.

Today, golfers who play in the French Girls Amateur Championship under-16 division are competing for the Trophée Brigitte Varangot.

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