BOB WEST ON GOLF: Babe Zaharias getting love on several fronts
Thanks to the tireless promotional efforts of Babe Zaharias Foundation president W.L. Pate Jr., and her enduring legacy as the world’s greatest female athlete, there almost assuredly will never be an expiration date on the Babe’s popularity.
Three golf courses bearing the name Babe Zaharias — one in Los Angeles, one in Tampa and one in Port Arthur — are constant reminders.
Wonder Girl, a terrific book about Babe’s life and feats by Pulitzer Prize winning author Don Van Natta, woke up the echoes in 2011.
In 2014, her name was back in the golf headlines when the set of MacGregor Tommy Armour clubs she used before signing with Wilson in 1947 sold for an astounding $31,250. Even more astounding, the set included a 1-iron.
As Lee Trevino once said, even God can’t hit a 1-iron. Obviously, Trevino was not aware that Zaharias could.
The point, though, is that Zaharias, because of all that she accomplished, and the flair with which she did it, was and is such a unique personality she will never be forgotten or go out of style. Latest periodic proof is a flurry of developments certain to enhance the legend.
For openers, word came from Pate that Repsol, an international firm that provides gas utilities in Spain, had added electricity to its product line. In the quest to show customers that it’s possible to be outstanding in more than one area, Repsol chose Zaharias as the face of an ad campaign.
You read it right. Babe Zaharias, at 107 years old, is the star of a commercial in Spain.
I’ve seen it. There are sub-titles in English, as video of Zaharias in action flashes across the screen. For rights to use Zaharias footage, Pate got Repsol to donate $50,000 to the Babe Zaharias Scholarship Fund at Lamar University.
You can view the commercial elsewhere on this site.
Not long after the Repsol deal was nailed down, it was announced that Zaharias had been selected as the third winner of the AAU Gussie Crawford Lifetime Achievement Award. To put that in proper heavyweight perspective, the first two winners were Jesse Owens and Jim Thorpe.
Crawford was a trailblazer in amateur sports and the first female president of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). The award will be presented to members of Zaharias’ family on April 16 in ceremonies at the New York Athletic Club housed in New York City.
To check out the eye-popping trophy, Google Gussie Crawford Lifetime Achievement Award.
Capping off the “We love, remember and respect The Babe 2019 victory tour” is the inaugural Aurora Games scheduled for Aug. 20-25 in Albany, New York. It’s a six-sport competition pitting American female athletes against athletes from around the world.
Two of the all-time greatest female Olympians — Nadia Comaneci for the world and Jackie Joyner-Kersee for the USA — have been selected as captains. Adding a stamp of legitimacy to the Aurora Games is the award that goes to the winning team — the Babe Didrikson Zaharias trophy.
Joyner-Kersee, the winner of three golds, one silver and two bronze Olympic medals, left little doubt about how revered Zaharias still is, and how appropriate it was to have her name on the trophy.
“It is an honor to recognize a woman that has done so much for sports in general, to be able to present that trophy on behalf of her family, as well as her foundation,” said Joyner-Kersee.
Pate, who has done an outstanding job following his dad as president of the Zaharias Foundation, plans to lobby for a replica trophy for display in the Babe Zaharias Museum off Interstate 10 in Beaumont. That museum, by the way, is about to undergo a significant modernization.
As he revels in the resurgence of attention for The Babe over 60 years after her death, Pate is somewhat overwhelmed with her lasting magnitude.
“Babe was the greatest female athlete ever and I am so proud to be part of a foundation that promotes her legacy,” he said. “She achieved the unachieveable and then achieved some more. It is so gratifying to see another generation exposed to who she was and what she did.”
PNG’s Timothy Feemster fired an even par 72 Saturday at Henry Homberg Golf Club to win Boys 16-18 in the opening event of the Texas-Louisiana Junior Tour. Jack Burke of Orange placed second with a 74.
Other winners include Xander Parks of Orangefield (75 in Boys 14-15), Lincoln Parks of Orangefield (77 in Boys 12-13), Cari Denson of Hankamer (80 in Girls 16-18) and Ava Borne of Groves (54 in the 9 hole Girls 12-13). The two coed flights saw Erin Eaves of Beaumont win the 7-9 age group with a 32 and Oziel Aguilar of Lumberton take 6 and under with a 41. The winter series moves to Frasch Park in Sulphur this Saturday. …
Winning the Texas-Louisiana Tour event at Homberg capped an impressive week for Feemster. Earlier, his 150 total (74-76) in cold, windy conditions earned medalist honors in the Klein Invitational played at Augusta Pines in Spring.
PNG placed sixth out of 19 teams. …
Jim Huebel of Groves authored the shot of the week at Babe Zaharias, holing a 7-iron from 155 yards for an eagle 2 on the 369-yard, eighth hole. Witnesses were Monroe Pratt and Kyle Landry. …
In the Senior 50 Plus 2-ball at Babe Zaharias Monday, the team of Keith Mullins, Larry Foster, Don MacNeil and Dillard Darbonne won the front with minus-1. On the back, minus-1 was also a winning score for the foursome of Kenny Robbins, Butch Cross, Gary Fontenot and John LeBlanc. …
Placing first at minus-3 in the Saturday 2-ball at Zaharias was the team of Ed Holley, Adam Noel, Cross and Mike Noel. Taking the back in minus-4 was the team of Doug LeBlanc, Bim Morrow, Steve Wisenbaker and Keith Marshall. …
PNG ex Braden Bailey has been accepted into the Mackenzie Tour’s Q-school.
He will attempt to earn playing privileges on the Canadian PGA Tour through a 90-hole qualifier March 26-30 at Carlton Oaks Country Club in Santee, California.
For Bailey, a Baylor senior, the Q-School falls between the Bears’ playing in the March 17-19 Valspar Invitational at Houston Astros owner Jim Crane’s Floridian National and Texas A&M’s Aggie Invitational on the Traditions Golf Club April 6-7. …
Andrew Landry, after taking a week off following a T28 in the Desert Classic, returns for the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, Arizona. Chris Stroud, coming off a T52 in San Diego’s Farmers Insurance Open, will be playing a third consecutive tournament.
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