Katherine Harley, Early 1900s Golf Champion

Katherine Harley was an American golfer in the early 1900s. Her claim to fame is two victories, separated by six years, in the biggest golf tournament available to American women of her era: the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship.

Full name: Katherine Clement Harley

Date of birth: November 13, 1881

Place of birth: Fall River, Massachusetts

Date and place of death: May 2, 1961 in Pinehurst, North Carolina

Also known as: Katharine (spelled with an "a" in the middle) Harley, Kate C. Harley. After marriage, Katherine Jackson or Mrs. H. Arnold Jackson.

Harley in the U.S. Women's Amateur

Katherine Harley won the U.S. Women's Amateur twice, first in 1908 and second in 1914. In the 1908 U.S. Women's Amateur, she dethroned the defending champion, Margaret Curtis (one of the namesakes of the Curtis Cup), beating Curtis 4-and-2 in the second round. In the championship match, Harley defeated Mrs. T.H. Polhemus, 6-and-5.

In the 1914 U.S. Women's Amateur, Harley was listed in the entries at Mrs. H. Arnold Jackson, one year after her marriage. In the first round she beat Harriot Curtis (Margaret's sister and co-Curtis Cup namesake). Harley won the championship match, 1-up, over Elaine Rosenthal.

Harley reached the semifinals in the U.S. Women's Amateur three other times, in 1903, 1904, and, at age 41, in 1922. In 1904, her vanquisher was the eventual champ, Georgianna Bishop. She also reached the quarterfinals in 1911.

More About Katherine Harley

The 1909 Spalding's Official Golf Guide noted that Katherine Harley was "a generally straight driver, and with her irons is the equal of any woman golf in the country," but that "putting seemed to be her weakness" when she came up short in matches or tournaments.

In 1913, five years after winning her first U.S. Women's Amateur title, Harley married H. Arnold Jackson, a well-to-do businessman. Jackson eventually became board chairman of the Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company.

At that time, it was common for women golfers to give up playing tournaments after marrying, but Harley kept playing. When she won her second USWA title in 1914, she became the first woman to win that title both before and after getting married.

Her other tournament victories included the Women's Eastern Amateur in 1914, the 1917 Women's Golf Association of Boston Championship, and the 1921 Women's Metropolitan Golf Association Championship.

In 1953, Harley, then living in the golf mecca of Pinehurst, North Carolina, donated her gold medals from those wins plus her USWA wins (along with the bronze medals from her three USWA semifinal appearances) to the USGA Museum. She was 79 years old when she died in 1961.

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