Jessie Valentine was the world’s leading ladies golfer in the 1930s, winning a string of international titles and earning global fame.
Born in Perth in 1915, her father was the professional at Craigie Hill Golf Club, and she started swinging a club aged five. By the time she was 17 she was a Scottish Ladies semi-finalist and within a year won the British Girls Championship.
In 1935, she became the New Zealand Ladies champion, following it up the next year with the French Ladies title. But she enjoyed her greatest year in 1937, winning the British Ladies Amateur golf championship by beating Doris Park 6&4 in the final. When she added the British Ladies title at Turnberry it made her the world’s top-ranked ladies golfer.
She represented Great Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup seven times between 1936 and 1958 and on her first appearance, famously holed a 60ft putt on the 18th at Gleneagles to secure a win and help her team tie with the USA.
Jessie added the Scottish Ladies Amateur titles to her medal haul in 1938, defending her title in 1939 before her career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. During hostilities she drove a truck, and was held in such esteem in the USA that when her fiancé was captured and held as a prisoner of war, he was sent monthly food parcels by the Curtis sisters, creators of the Curtis Cup.
Jessie won four more Scottish Ladies Amateur titles in two more British Amateur titles before, aged 45, turning professional in 1960. By then she had become the first woman golfer to be awarded the MBE and she went on to receive the Frank Moran Trophy in 1967 for “the Scot who has done most for the game of golf”. She died in 2006, aged 91.
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