Profile of LPGA Golfer Joyce Ziske

Joyce Ziske was a professional golfer in the first decade of the LPGA Tour's history. Despite only playing from 1955-60, she compiled multiple wins including a major, and had a strong record overall in LPGA major championships. But she retired at the age of 26.

Date of birth: May 20, 1934

Place of birth: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Also known as: Joyce Malison, Joyce Ziske Malison

Ziske's Biggest Wins

As an amateur:
  • 1952 Wisconsin Women's Amateur
  • 1954 Palm Beach Women's Amateur
  • 1954 North & South Women's Amateur
  • 1954 Wisconsin Women's Amateur
As a pro, Ziske is credited with four LPGA wins:
  • 1956 Syracuse Open
  • 1959 Howard Johnson Invitational
  • 1960 Wolverine Open
  • 1960 Women's Western Open
She also won the 1960 Hoosier Celebrity, once counted as an LPGA Tour win but today considered an "unofficial" tournament by the tour.

In the Majors

Joyce Ziske was a one-time major winner, and came very close in another major. In 1960, Ziske won the Women's Western Open. At that time, the Women's Western Open (which was played from 1930-67) was an LPGA major championship, and all its winners today are credited as major champions.

Ziske entered the final round two strokes behind third-round leader Barbara Romack. But in that final round, Ziske carded a 72 to Romack's 75, and they finished tied at 301. The playoff was sudden-death, and they matched scores on the first extra hole. But Ziske won it on the second playoff hole.

About a month later, Ziske nearly staged another final-round comeback to catch the third-round leader in the 1960 U.S. Women's Open. She entered the final round three strokes behind again, with Betsy Rawls in the lead. Ziske actually led by two with nine holes to play, but Rawls played the back nine in 35, and won when Ziske bogeyed the final hole. In a time before giant on-course scoreboards being visible to players, Ziske thought she had missed a putt for the win, rather than missing a putt for a tie. Ziske was in the process of signing her scorecard, believing she had tied Rawls and would be going to playoff, when she learned she was actually the runner-up by overhearing Rawls being interviewed by reporters as the champion.

In addition those two majors, Ziske, in just the five years of 1956 through 1960, compiled 12 other Top 10 finishes in majors. Those included tied for third in the 1958 LPGA Championship and 1959 U.S. Women's Open, and fifth-place finishes in the 1956 LPGA, 1956 USWO, 1957 LPGA, 1959 LPGA and 1959 Titleholders Championship. She was particularly strong in the LPGA Championship where, from 1956-60, she placed fifth, fifth, tied third, fifth and tied eighth, respectively.

More About Joyce Ziske

Joyce Ziske had a strong year on the LPGA Tour in 1960, her best year since turning pro in 1955. She won two tournaments, including a major, the Women's Western Open. She was runner-up in another major, the U.S. Women's Open. She also finished second in two other tournaments, both times to Mickey Wright. Ziske was a career-best fourth on the LPGA Tour money list for 1960.

She was only 26 years old and appeared to be an up-and-comer, a golfer on the cusp of even bigger accomplishments. Instead, Ziske never won again. What happened? She got married, decided to start a family, and early 1961 announced her retirement from competitive golf.

Ziske grew up in the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin, and in 1950, at the age of 16, she reached the championship match of the Wisconsin Women's Amateur. In 1951, she made the final of the prestigious Women's Western Junior.

She went on to win the Wisconsin Women's Amateur twice, in 1952 and again in her best year as an amateur, 1954. In 1954, Ziske also won the Women's North and South Amateur, plus the Palm Beach Women's Amateur, a tournament that attracted a very strong field at the time. She was runner-up in the South Atlantic Amateur and made the Round of 16 (her best showing) in the U.S. Women's Amateur. Ziske also played for Team USA in the 1954 Curtis Cup.

After that terrific year, Ziske made the decision to turn pro and play the LPGA Tour. Her first professional win was in the 1956 Syracuse Open, and Ziske finished fifth on the money list that year. Another win came in the 1959 Howard Johnson Invitational, one week after finishing runner-up to Betsy Rawls in the Land of the Sky Open.

Then came her best — and, as it turned out, last — year in 1960. That same year the Louise Suggs-led instructional book Golf For Women (affiliate link) appeared, and Suggs tapped Ziske to author the chapter on playing fairway woods.

Fifteen years after her retirement, in 1975, Ziske became the first woman inducted into the Wisconsin Golf Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the Racine County (Wisc.) Sports Hall of Fame.

And although she retired young, Ziske's game apparently stood the test of time. According to former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel golf writer Gary D'Amato, Ziske still carried a single-digit handicap from the back tees of her home course in Wisconsin into her 70s.

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