Barbara McIntire, American Amateur Golf Champ

Amateur golf champion Barbara McIntire on cover of Sports Illustrated magazine
Barbara McIntire was an American amateur golf star of the 1950s and 1960s. She won three major championships of amateur golf, and came close to winning a U.S. Women's Open, as well. McIntire was a frequent player in the Curtis Cup and also captained Team USA.

Full name: Barbara Joy McIntire

Date of birth: January 12, 1935

Place of birth: Toledo, Ohio

Nickname: Miss Dimples

Her Biggest Wins

  • 1952 Western Junior Girls' Amateur
  • 1957 North and South Women's Amateur
  • 1958 Women's Western Amateur
  • 1959 U.S. Women's Amateur
  • 1960 South Atlantic Amateur
  • 1960 North and South Women's Amateur
  • 1960 British Ladies Amateur
  • 1961 North and South Women's Amateur
  • 1962 Women's Broadmoor Invitation
  • 1963 Women's Western Amateur
  • 1964 U.S. Women's Amateur
  • 1965 North and South Women's Amateur
  • 1969 North and South Women's Amateur
  • 1969 Doherty Women's Amateur
  • 1971 North and South Women's Amateur

McIntire in the Amateur Majors

The two major championships of women's amateur golf are the U.S. Women's Amateur and British Women's Amateur (or British Ladies Amateur, as it was known in McIntire's time). McIntire won them both.

Her debut was as a 15-year-old in the 1950 U.S. Women's Amateur, and she made a splash: In the first round, McIntire knocked out one of the greatest amateurs of all-time, Glenna Collett Vare.

She made the quarterfinals in 1955, then won the 1959 U.S. Women's Amateur. In that 1959 tournament, McIntire came from 3-down to win in both her quarterfinal (against Anne Quast) and semifinal matches. In the championship, she downed JoAnne Goodwin by a 4-and-3 score. McIntire was 24 years old at the time of her first amateur major win.

In her title defense in 1960, McIntire went out in the quarterfinals. But about two months earlier, she won her second amateur major, the 1960 British Ladies Amateur. She did it by beating Quast again, this time in the semifinals, then topping Philomena Garvey in the championship match, 4 and 3.

When McIntire added the 1960 British Ladies crown to her 1959 U.S. Women's title, she became just the seventh golfer ever to win both those championships. Her only other attempt, during her peak years, at the British Ladies ended in a second-round loss to future U.S. Women's Open champ Catherine Lacoste in 1964.

McIntire's other best showings in the USWA include making the semifinals (beaten by Phyllis Preuss) in 1961 and the quarterfinals in 1963. And then she notched her second USWA victory.

McIntire won the 1964 U.S. Women's Amateur, what probably qualifies as her greatest victory because she had to beat "the Great Gundy" in the championship match. JoAnne Gunderson — an LPGA Hall of Famer better-known by her married name, JoAnne Carner — was the dominant amateur golfer of the 1960s. McIntire was 3-down to Gunderson after 21 holes of the championship match, but came back to win, 3 and 2.

McIntire reached the quarterfinals of the USWA twice more, including in 1965. In 1971, in echoes of her first appearance back in 1950, McIntire was knocked out by 16-year-old Laura Baugh, the eventual winner, in the quarters.

In all McIntire played the U.S. Women's Amateur 25 times, first in 1950 and last in 1980. That's fourth-best in tournament history, behind only Carol Semple Thompson (41), Anne Quast (40) and Glenna Collett Vare (26).

More About Barbara McIntire

The 1975 Steele/Ryde Encyclopedia of Golf called Barbara McIntire's swing "mechanical," but it was repeatable, sound and enduring. It also produced good distance. It was McIntire's putting, though, that stood out, as the authors wrote: "The stillness of her head and body when she putts is an object lesson, and it is hardly necessary to add that her skill with a putter is exceptional."

McIntire got into golf by caddying for her parents in Toledo, Ohio, her hometown. They cut down a few clubs for to swing, and before long young Barbara was one of the best juniors in the area.

But her first major junior win didn't happen until after she had already debuted, at 15, in the U.S. Women's Amateur. That win was the 1952 Western Junior Girls' Amateur. McIntire twice reached the championship match of the U.S. Girls' Junior, in 1951 and 1952, the second time falling 1-down to legend-in-the-making Mickey Wright.

Beyond the juniors, she came close to winning the U.S. Women's Open before she had won the Amateur or any other big amateur tournament. In the 1956 U.S. Women's Open, McIntire made up eight strokes on Kathy Cornelius in the final round, forcing a playoff. But in the 18-hole playoff the next day, Cornelius won with a 75 to McIntire's 82.

In addition to that 1956 Open, McIntire was also low amateur in the 1957 U.S. Women's Open (tied 11th) and in 1964 (tied 11th). In another LPGA major, the Women's Western Open, she was sixth and low amateur in 1964.

What was McIntire first big, adult amateur championship? She won the North and South Women's Amateur in 1957. That was a tournament McIntire went on to win six times total, one off the tournament record. In 1957 she downed Ann Casey Johnstone in the championship match, 3 and 2. In 1960 it was 5 and 4 over JoAnne Goodwin; in 1961, 3 and 1 over Judy Bell; in 1965, 1-up over Nancy Roth.

Her last two N&S championships were over future LPGA Tour stars. In 1969, McIntire beat Jane Blalock in the final, 4 and 3. And in 1971 — in what was McIntire's final big tournament victory — she defeated future Hall of Famer Hollis Stacy in the title game, 6 and 5.

Her six wins in the North and South is second-best, tied with Glenna Collett Vare one behind Estelle Lawson Page's seven wins.

The Women's Western Amateur was another huge tournament in McIntire's time, and she had an impressive record there, too. She won twice. Most impressive was her 1958 championship, when she beat Barbara Romack in the Round of 16, Alice Dye in the semifinals, and, in the final, Anne Quast, 2 and 1.

She also won the Women's Western Amateur in 1963, beating Jean Ashley, 1-up, in the final after having defeated future LPGA major winner Susie Maxwell Berning in the semifinals. In addition, McIntire lost in the WWA championship match in 1961, and reached the semifinals in 1954 and 1968.

McIntire was a stalwart member of Team USA in the Curtis Cup, appearing as a player six times: in 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966 and 1972. Her overall record was 6-6-4, 3-5-1 in foursomes and 3-1-3 in singles.

Her singles results are these: In the 1958 Curtis Cup, McIntire halved with Angela Ward Bonallack. In the 1960 Curtis Cup, it was another half with Elizabeth Price; in 1962, McIntire beat Sheila Vaughan, 5 and 4. In the 1964 Curtis Cup, McIntire halved with Marley Spearman, then beat Joan Lawrence, 4 and 2. She did not play singles in 1966, but in her final playing appearance, in the 1972 Curtis Cup, McIntire played two singles matches — she beat Dinah Oxley, then lost to Mary Everard.

McIntire also served as Team USA captain twice, 22 years apart. She captained her squad to an 11½ to 6½ victory in the 1976 Curtis Cup; and, in the 1998 Curtis Cup, led Team USA to a 10-8 win.

In the early 1960s, McIntire moved to Colorado and joined the golf scene at The Broadmoor Hotel and Resort. She wound up running several clothing and gift shops there. But McIntire continued playing competitively when she could. Her best finish in a U.S. Senior Women's Amateur was fourth place in 1990.

She also got involved in golf administration, serving for many years in the 1980s and 1990s on the USGA Women's Committee. In 1995, McIntire chaired that committee.

McIntire was given the Bob Jones Award for outstanding service to golf by the USGA in 2000. She is a member of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and Ohio Golf Hall of Fame.

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