Golfer Carole Jo Kabler: USGA, LPGA Champion

Carole Jo Kabler (who played under the name Carole Jo Skala during her competitive peak on the LPGA Tour) was both a USGA champion and an LPGA champion. She won the U.S. Girls' Junior title in the 1950s, and won multiple times on the LPGA Tour in the 1970s.

Birth name: Carole Jo Kabler

Date of birth: June 13, 1938

Place of birth: Eugene, Oregon

Date of death: March 16, 2017

Also known as: She is probably best-remembered under a married name, Carole Jo Skala, because that is the name under which she competed the longest on the LPGA Tour. She was known by that name at the time of all of her LPGA wins. Kabler also also competed on the LPGA under the name Carole Jo Callison, and was known as Carole Jo Whitted at the time of her death.

Her Biggest Wins

Kabler won one USGA national championship as an amateur:
  • 1955 U.S. Girls' Junior
Playing as Carole Jo Skala, she won four times on the LPGA Tour:
  • 1973 George Washington Classic
  • 1974 Peter Jackson Ladies Classic
  • 1974 Wheeling Ladies Classic
  • 1974 Sacramento Union Ladies Classic
Her other victories include two wins in the Oregon Girls' Junior and four wins in the Women's Oregon Amateur, plus several other wins in big amateur tournaments that are listed in the bio section below.

In the Majors

Kabler's best finish in a major championship was solo third in the 1976 Women's PGA Championship (then called the LPGA Championship). She finished at 290, three strokes behind winner Betty Burfeindt. She had two other Top 10 finishes in majors: tied seventh in the 1982 U.S. Women's Open, and tied 10th in the 1976 U.S. Women's Open.

One of Kabler's LPGA victories was in the Peter Jackson Ladies Classic. That is the tournament that for many years was an LPGA major under the name du Maurier Classic, and that still exists today as the Canadian Women's Open. However, at the time Kabler won it it was not yet a major championship.

More About Carole Jo Kabler

It took Carole Jo Kabler a while to get to the professional portion of her career, but her career as an amateur golfer was strong. It started in Oregon with wins in the Oregon Girls' Junior in 1954 and 1955, at ages 16 and 17, respectively.

In 1955 she also won her one USGA championship in the U.S. Girls' Junior. In the championship match, Kabler downed a future LPGA legend. She beat "the Great Gundy," JoAnne Gunderson — later better-known as JoAnne Carner — 4-and-3 in the title match.

Also in 1955, Kabler scored the first of her four victories in the Women's Oregon Amateur. She also won that title in 1961, 1962 and 1965, and made the finals two other years.

In 1957, Kabler had her best showing in the U.S. Women's Amateur. She beat Marlene Stewart Streit in the quarterfinals before losing in the semifinals to Anne Casey Johnstone. Kabler did have a big win that year, though, at the Pacific Northwest Golf Association Women's Amateur.

In 1959, Kabler won the North and South Amateur. The two previous years she had reached the championship match before losing to fellow-future LPGA winners: to Ruth Jessen in 1957, and to Gunderson in 1958.

As the 1960s dawned, Kabler was also starting a family and going to school. She got married, becoming Carole Jo Skala. She had three children in the early part of the decade, and also graduated from college with a degree in history. She became a schoolteacher.

But Kabler also picked up her golf career in the second half of the decade. She won the Indiana State Amateur in 1966, plus the Women's Trans-National Amateur in 1968. In 1969, she was runner-up in both the Women's Western Amateur (losing to Jane Bastanchury) and the Trans-Nationals.

Finally, in 1970, at the age of 32, she was ready to turn pro. Kabler had a best finish in her rookie LPGA year of sixth, and wound up 32nd on the money list. She played only part-time, though, due to family concerns, and really at no point as a professional played a full-time LPGA schedule.

In 1973, she had her first runner-up finish, and her first victory happened at the George Washington Classic. She improved to 22nd on the money list.

Kabler's biggest year was 1974. All three of her other LPGA wins happened that year, including the Peter Jackson Ladies Classic. There, she beat the runner-up, and her old rival, JoAnne Carner by three strokes. The Peter Jackson tournament is still played today on the LPGA Tour as the Canadian Women's Open. For more that two decades it was an LPGA major championship under the name du Maurier Classic. When Kabler won it in 1974, it was still five years away from that major status, but it was still the biggest win of her career.

Kabler finished eighth on the money list in 1974, her best showing. Her final victory was in the Sacramento Union Ladies Classic at a time when she lived with her family in Sacramento, California, in a house off a fairway of the golf course where the tournament was played. Her husband served as the tournament chairman.

In 1975, Kabler had no wins; her best finishes were a pair of third-place showings. But she was so consistently recording good showings that she finished 13th on the money list. She finished no higher than 46th on the money list afterward, but, remember, she didn't turn pro until she was already in her 30s. By this point, Kabler was in her late 30s.

Her last hurrah happened when she was 44 years old in 1982, the last year she finished in the Top 50 of the money list. Kabler got into a sudden-death playoff at the American Express Sun City Classic, but lost on the second extra hole to Beth Daniel. She also had her best showing (tied seventh) in the U.S. Women's Open that year.

Kabler was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame in 2009, and into the Sacromento Golf Hall of Fame in 2016.

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