Mass Golf Celebrates Women's History Month - MASSGOLF

Celebrating Women’s History Month with Notable Figures in Massachusetts Golf History

The story of organized amateur golf in Massachusetts starts with women. The Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts was founded in 1900, three years prior to men forming their own organization, the Massachusetts Golf Association. While both organizations have since merged to form Mass Golf, the legacy that was built by the women in Massachusetts is far from forgotten.

In many circumstances, some of the most noted female names in Massachusetts golf history remained affixed to titles of championships, tournaments, and awards given to today’s amateur golfers. Others have stepped up to serve more than just the game, but their communities and their country as well.

Throughout the month of March, we will celebrate the accolades and stories of the women who have made Mass Golf what it is today: one of the largest state golf associations in the country, as well as one of the most storied.

FOUR MASSACHUSETTS golfers have pulled off rare sweep

It could be argued that junior golf for girls in Massachusetts is as strong as it has ever been. Look no further than the fact that the past four state amateur champions — Angela Garvin, Alison Paik, Catie Schernecker, and Morgan Smith — won the title at age 18 or younger and hadn’t yet started college.

Garvin’s 2019 victory in particular completed one of the rarest feats in the history of organized women’s golf in Massachusetts. That win made her the fourth person ever to win the Mass Women’s Amateur and Mass Girls’ Junior Amateur in the same season, and she did it in back-to-back weeks.

These two events date back to 1900 and 1930, respectively. Here’s a look at each player who has won both in the same year.


Goodwin set the trend for early success of female golfers in Massachusetts. She won the Mass Girls’ Junior Amateur every year between 1951-1954, the only person to win four titles in as many years. She won the 1954 title by sinking a 25-foot downhill, sidehill put on the first playoff hole. Two months prior, the 18-year-old defeated Nancy Black, 3&2, at Essex County Club to capture the Mass Women’s Amateur, which at the time made her the youngest winner in history. That same year she played in the U.S. Women’s Open at Salem Country Club, and by 1959, she was rated as the No. 3 female amateur golfer in the world. She was inducted into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame in 2014.


By the time Milhench graduated from Tabor Academy in June, reporters were asking if she had plans to join the LPGA ranks, similar to other Massachusetts greats that came before her. Instead, she was focused on attending Wake Forest, where she went on to have a successful collegiate career. In July 1985, the 17-year-old Milhench defeated Marion Maney-McInerney at Wollaston Golf Club to capture the state amateur title for the first time. Five days later, the young phenom from The Kittansett Club won her second Girls’ Junior title at Norfolk Golf Club. Milhench helped Wake Forest win an ACC title her freshman year, and in 1989 won the New England Women’s Amateur. She also qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur four times, and the British Women’s Amateur in 1987.


Though she had been victorious in past years, the 2005 golf season turned out to be a landmark year for Curtis. She rallied back from six strokes down to force a playoff and earn her first Girls’ Junior Amateur title at Oakley Country Club. The week after, the Mass Women’s Amateur final pitted junior champion Curtis against senior champion Karen Richardson. On that day, youth won out, as Curtis won the first five holes at Winchester Country Club to become the latest junior phenom to win the title. Curtis, who attended Georgetown University and had a stint on the LPGA Futures Tour, still competes in Mass Golf women’s championships and has become an active committee member who serves on the Mass Golf Board of Directors.


Garvin is the most recent player to pull off the Girls Junior-Women’s Amateur sweep. Four years ago, the Girls’ Junior site was moved from Cranberry Valley to The Ridge Club due to a damage from a tornado. But the new location didn’t faze Garvin, who shot two steady rounds of even-par 71 to win her third Girls’ Junior title by three strokes. In the Mass Women’s Amateur at Weston Golf Club, Garvin earned the No. 1 seed in match play. She held off Krystal Knight and Pam Kuong in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. In the final against Anne Walsh, she won holes 11-13 with the help of a couple of birdies and then closed out the match on the 15th. Those wins sent Garvin off in style as she now attends the University of Maryland and is in the midst of her senior season.

Massachusetts Born Meg Mallon Wins the U.S. Women’s Open on Her Native Soil

Massachusetts has hosted four U.S. Women’s Opens in its history, the most recent was contested back in 2004, at The Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, and it was particularly memorable for one Bay State native. Meg Mallon, born in Natick, fended off one of the greatest players of all-time, Annika Sörenstam, en route to her second U.S. Open title and fourth major championship win.

It wasn’t the first time those two Hall of Famers went toe-to-toe at the U.S. Women’s Open. In the 1995 championship, Mallon held the 54-hole lead and a second Championship Cup appeared to be within reach. However, Sörenstam made up a six-shot deficit in the final round; her 68 was good enough to clip Mallon by one stroke. The win marked the first of Sörenstam’s 72 career victories on the LPGA Tour.

Nine years later, Sörenstam and Mallon found themselves in the role of chaser, trailing Jennifer Rosales by three shots heading into the final round of play. Rosales faltered on the front nine, allowing Mallon to overtake the lead by the time she reached the turn. Sörenstam tried her best to claw up the leaderboard with a final round 67, but Mallon would not let this one get away.

A scorching hot putter—Mallon needed just 24 putts in the final round—blazed her path to a closing 65, good for a 10-under total, two shots clear of Sörenstam. On the 15th, when Mallon buried a long putt from just off the green, all she could do was shrug.

As Johnny Miller said on the broadcast, “Almost unconscious Gary, the putts she’s making.”

Or perhaps Mallon’s caddie, John Killeen, put it best, “The putter looked like she had a third hand out there.”

Better yet, take it from Mallon herself, “The hole was like a bucket.”

And so, about 80 miles down the Mass Pike from where she was born, and 13 years after her first U.S. Women’s Open win, Mallon settled the score with Annika. The victory at age 41 made her the third oldest woman to win the championship. Upon being presented with the Championship Cup, Mallon exclaimed, “I didn’t think I’d see her again.”

Mallon won the BMO Financial Group Canadian Women’s Open the very next weekend, then picked up her 18th (and final) career LPGA Tour victory a few weeks later. She was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017, with a decorated resume that includes a Michigan Amateur Championship, playing in eight Solheim Cups, captaining the team in 2013, four major championship titles and posting the first 60 in LPGA Tour history. In 1991, a year in which she won four times, including two majors, she was named Female Player of the Year by the Golf Writers Association of America.

deborah verry & MARGARET CURTIS ANSWERED The Call TO Service

The 20th century was filled with athletes, golfers included, who put their talents aside and served their country valiantly during wartime. Two Massachusetts women’s golf champions were among those who answered that call to service, doing so in different ways.

Margaret Curtis, who along with her sister Harriott has deservingly been inducted into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame, won four Mass Women’s Amateurs and three U.S. Women’s Amateur titles between 1901 and 1914. At the end of that span, Germany declared war on France, which in part helped spark World War I. Even before the United States’ official involvement in the war, Curtis sailed to France in 1916 to serve as an administrator with the Student Atelier Association, an affiliate of the Red Cross. Drawing on her many years of administrative work experience in social services, Curtis led efforts to feed starving, ill and homeless refuges fleeing war-torn areas. Even after the war, Curtis stayed in Europe to set up health clinics for refugees. For her efforts, Curtis was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the highest French order of merit, both military and civil.

Margaret Curtis’ backstory was featured in the Fall 2010 edition of MassGolfer Magazine. To read the article, CLICK HERE

Two decades after Curtis’ service overseas, Worcester’s Deborah Verry emerged as a standout on the amateur golf scene and later became a pioneering woman in the field of American espionage. Verry first picked up the game at age 15, learning to play with her father at The Kittansett Club. She was also a member at Tatnuck Country Club in Worcester. Verry became the first Massachusetts player to win the North & South Women’s Amateur in 1935, following that up by winning the Mass Women’s Amateur in 1937 and 1940. She later served as president of the WGAM and Women’s Eastern Golf Association. In the lead up to World War II, Verry scaled back her competitive golf due to her defense work. She was one of the first to sign on with the Massachusetts Women’s Defense Corps, which formed in April 1941 to prepare women to serve as volunteers in local Civil Defense agencies. Verry headed up a mobile unit, and eventually joined the Navy through WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). According to declassified documents, Verry rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, where she supervised more than 100 officers.

In 1948, Verry joined the newly-formed CIA and was assigned to the Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI) branch. According to CIA documents, the CSI was established to “think through the functions of intelligence and bring the best intellects available to bear on intelligence problems.” While much of her work will forever be classified, to be considered a top intellect within the CIA demonstrates leadership, critical thinking, and discipline, all skills Verry displayed through her experience in amateur golf as well.

Even though both women have long since passed, we owe them a debt of gratitude for serving our country during two tumultuous eras in the 20th century.

Deborah Verry’s backstory was featured in the Winter 2021-22 edition of MassGolfer Magazine. To read the full article, CLICK HERE


Dolly Sullivan dedicated much of her life to athletics, whether as a competitor, coach, official, or athletic director. And just like her uncle, America’s golf hero Francis Ouimet, her legacy outside the arena of competition, makes her one of the most notable figures in Massachusetts golf history.

After graduating from Northeastern University, Sullivan became a formidable participant in WGAM competitions. A member of Marshfield Country Club, she won seven South Shore golf titles and at the state level would often compete with or go up against Cohasset Golf Club’s Nancy Black, one of the winningest golfers in WGAM history. The pair won the Mass Women’s Four-Ball Championship for the Townshend Cup three times and went head-to-head in the 1947 Mass Women’s Amateur final match, with Black getting the edge in 19 holes. Sullivan also won two more Women’s Four-Ball titles with Mildred Prunaret, whose namesake is on the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Trophy. 

A photo of Francis Ouimet and Dolly Sullivan is on display in the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame.

Off the course, Sullivan served as physical education instructor, coach, and athletics director at Milton Academy for 32 years, also founding the girls’ squash program during her tenure. In her 30-plus years of coaching at Milton Academy, she suffered only two losing seasons. She was a national official in field hockey and basketball and also served as a softball umpire.

Much like her uncle, Sullivan found a way to give back to future generations. Since 1999, Sullivan’s name has been attached to a permanently endowed scholarship to assist female Ouimet scholars who have either worked as golf course employees or have competed in women’s golf events in Massachusetts. Each year, Mass Golf hosts the Dolly Sullivan Team Best Ball Tournament to raise money for the scholars, and it’s one of the most popular golf events for women each year. Last year’s tournament featured nearly 300 golfers with 73 foursomes representing 46 different member clubs statewide.

The Dolly Sullivan Team Best Ball brings teams from all across the state to play in a fundraising tournament. (Teddy Doggett)

Sullivan’s legacy was included in the WGAM’s centennial book ‘On The Greens Of Massachusetts: The Story Of The Women’s Golf Association Of Massachusetts’: 

A happy note in 1975 was Dolly Sullivan’s induction into the Northeastern University’s Varsity Club Hall of Fame. Sullivan, niece of golf great Francis Ouimet, was never a nationally known competitor but locally she was held in great affection. With a strong game and a devotion to the sport, she had long worked with the WGAM to make women’s golf more competitive and far reaching. Dolly loved nothing more than seeing a love of golf passed on to younger generations, just as it was to her.

It is fitting that a special WGAM junior award is named for her. The Association was thrilled that their beloved Dolly had been so honored. That same year the WGAM office moved to the Francis Ouimet Museum Golf House in Weston, named after Dolly’s uncle, who often played as her partner in WGAM mixed events. Dolly relished his affection even more than her own victories and honors.