Catherine Lacoste

Golf champion Catherine Lacoste with her children
Catherine Lacoste with her children, years after she had retired from tournament golf. Tony Roberts/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Catherine Lacoste burst onto the international golf scene with huge victories in the late 1960s, then disappeared just as quickly as she had arrived.

Date of birth: June 27, 1945
Place of birth: Paris, France

LPGA Tour Victories:


Major Championships:

Professional - 1
• U.S. Women's Open: 1967

Amateur - 2
• U.S. Women's Amateur: 1969
• British Ladies Amateur: 1969

Quote, Unquote:

Catherine Lacoste: "I've been so lucky. I achieved my ambitions as a golfer, and I have a wonderful family and a happy, busy life."


• When she won the U.S. Women's Open in 1967 at age 22 years, 5 days, Catherine Lacoste became the first European to win an LPGA major. She also set a record (later broken) as the youngest to win that tournament.

• Lacoste was the second non-American to win an LPGA major. Fay Crocker was the first.

Catherine Lacoste Biography:

What if Bobby Jones had retired after the 1925 season, having won the U.S. Amateur twice and the U.S. Open once? Would he be remembered as one of the all-time greats? Or would he be remembered more as a curiosity, a what-might-have-been?

What Catherine Lacoste might have been had she stuck with golf will never be known. But what she was was a flash across the golf firmament in the late 1960s, a star who burned bright but quickly.

Lacoste never turned pro, and played only a handful of big tournaments. But she won three of the biggest: the U.S. Women's Open, the U.S. Women's Amateur, and the British Ladies Amateur. Then she practically gave up the game.

Lacoste was the daughter of French tennis legend Rene Lacoste, who also founded the apparel company that carries the family name. Her mother, Simone de la Chaume, won the 1927 British Ladies Amateur - the tournament Catherine would also win 42 years later.

Catherine took up golf at Chantaco Golf Club - founded by her parents - in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France, and quickly dominated the junior circuit in her region.

She developed a powerful game - Golf Digest many years later called her "arguably the most powerful player of her era."

As a 19-year-old in 1964, Lacoste led the French to victory in the World Amateur Golf Team Championships. She showed up for the 1965 U.S. Women's Open and finished 14th. But she was still mostly a mystery when decided in 1967 to skip the European Team Championships for another appearance in the U.S. Women's Open.

Good choice. Lacoste took a 5-stroke lead into the final round, then held on for the victory despite bogeying five straight holes on the back nine of the final round. At the 17th hole, her competitors had to play a long par-5 needing three shots to reach the green. Lacoste pounded a 2-wood over trees to cut the corner of a dogleg, hit the green in two and birdied, sealing the victory.

She remains the only amateur to win the U.S. Women's Open. She was also the first European winner of that tournament and, at the time, the youngest.

In 1969, Lacoste scored an impressive double by winning both the U.S. Women's Amateur and British Ladies Amateur. She also won the French and Spanish amateur championships that year.

Then, having won all the tournaments she had set out to win, she essentially gave up the game. Lacoste continued playing for the French in the World Amateur Golf Team Championship in 1970, 1974, 1976 and 1978, but never again played in a top-level individual event.

Instead, she pursued family life, having four children, and business interests. She was president of Chantaco Golf Club for 30 years and served for many years on the board of directors of Lacoste, the company her father founded.