Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - by B.B. Branton
The father-daughter bet was on.
Win a women’s state golf championship and take home a new car.
It was the summer of 1944, and Edean Anderson – now Edean Ihlanfeldt –
drove well and putted even better to win her first Montana state women’s golf championship.
But with clubs in one hand and trophy in the other, she had to hitch a ride home to Helena.
She was only 14.
Her dad – a Ford car dealer – did eventually anti-up with a new convertible (when she turned 18) and gave plenty of moral support as the young blonde had won three more state titles before she could vote on the way to six straight, 1944-49.
“It was fun to ride with Edean to some of the golf tournaments because she was the one with the new car,” said world golf hall of famer Marlene Stewart Streit with a laugh.
Now 82, Mrs. Ihlanfeldt, who currently lives in Seattle, has a house full of trophies, including a coveted USGA Senior Women’s Amateur in 1982 and is one of eight former champions in Chattanooga this week to celebrate the 50th Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at The Honors Course.
The former champions, including world golf hall of famers Carol Semple Thompson and Streit, will be honored at the player’s dinner Thursday night at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club.
Practice rounds are Thursday and Friday, followed by two rounds of stroke play (Saturday and Sunday) with the top 64 advancing to four days of match play with the finals set for Sept. 15.
More than a decade ago while playing golf in Budapest, Ihlanfeldt noticed a male golfer on the course with only one leg.
“I was impressed that he hit the ball well, even from the sand traps,” she stated.
The man who shot low round that day – a 78 – was Chattanooga resident Dr. Bob Montague.
“Bob and his wife Betsy and I have been close friends ever since that golfing trip along the Danube River and I am their guest for the couple of days while I am in town,” Ihlanfeldt said.
“I am looking forward to the players’ dinner and am honored to be one of the past champions who will be in attendance.”
While she plans to attend the dinner, she will return to Seattle on Friday as she will host some friends at Saturday’s University of Washington-Hawaii football game.
A big Husky fan, Ihlanfeldt (pronounced, island-felt) started the university’s women’s varsity golf program in 1974 and coached the team for eight years and accepted no salary.
After winning senior women’s biggest prize three decades ago, Ihlanfeldt was quoted as saying, “I never won a national tournament like this. I don’t know how long you stay on cloud nine, but I am still there.”
Other reasons to be on golf’s cloud nine include hall of fame selections by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (1985) and the University of Washington (1989).
The Montana native has won at least one local, regional or national championship in five decades, including Montana State Women’s Amateur (6), Washington State Women’s Amateur (4), Pacific Northwest Senior Women’s Amateur (3), Seattle City Amateur (5), Los Angeles City Amateur, Canadian Women’s Open and the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur.
While Ihlanfeldt’s run of at least one significant tournament title a year began in 1944 and ended in 1954, all was not lost.
She met her future husband and Seattle resident Bob Ihlanfeldt (a 1-handicapper) that year during a golf outing in Montana. Not one to waste time, he proposed the next week and wedding bells rang two months later.
A major player in Seattle golf circles, she has won the Seattle City Women’s title five times – the championship trophy is named for her – along with the aforementioned Washington State Amateur crown.
A career highlighted by much more than taking home trophies on Sunday afternoons, Ihlanfeldt was instrumental in bringing two major women’s events to Seattle’s Broadmoor Golf Club; the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1974 and the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur in 1997.
Taking on Babe Zaharias Didrikson
At the 1952 International Mixed Four Ball in Orlando, Fla., Ihlanfeldt and partner Dick Chapman posted impressive wins against world hall of famers Sam Snead and partner and Patty Berg and partner in route to the finals.
“Dick and I played Babe Zaharias Didrikson and her partner in a 36-hole final,” stated Ihlanfeldt. “They were 1-up on the 36th hole and Babe and I both had birdie putts.
“Mine is from about 12 feet and Dick must have walked around the green about eight times getting the best angle. I roll in my birdie putt but Babe made her birdie putt as well for the win.”
“I first saw Babe play in a tournament in Spokane, Wash. She was a great person and always helpful to me with my game.”
The Montana native also won the Canadian Open in ’52 defeating Streit in the semis who was the defending champion and would go on to win that title 11 times.
In 1953, she won the Women’s Trans-Mississippi Amateur.
Even though Ihlanfeldt’s book title “I’ve Been Blessed” sums up her view of life, yet in reality, with her contributions to the game – her talent, fair play and drive to improve women’s amateur golf – those of us whose have had the privilege to cross life’s path with the tomboy from Montana are the ones who have been blessed.
USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship
Dates: Sept. 10-15
Course: The Honors Course, Ooltewah off I-75 (Exit 11)
Players: 128 – championship is open to female amateur players 50 years of age or older with a handicap not exceeding 18.4.
Admission: Free admission and free parking.
Event: The first two days will be individual stroke play with the top 64 players advancing to match play.
Match Play: top 64 players will participate in four days of match play competition ... Finals of match play is Thurs. Sept. 15.
Starting Field: 128
Stroke Play: Sept. 10-11
Match Play: low 64 scores
Sept. 12: first round of match play
Sept. 13: rounds of 32 and 16
Sept. 14: quarterfinals and semifinals
Sept. 15: championship finals
Defending Champion: Mina Hardin
Seven past champions will be in field of 128.
Past Champions (championships won in parentheses):
Carolyn Creekmore, Mina Hardin, Sherry Herman, Diane Lang (3), Anna Schultz, Marlene Stewart Streit (3), Carol Semple Thompson (4)
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com