Juli Inkster: Bio of the Golf Hall of Famer

Golfer Juli Inkster pictured in 2008
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Juli Inkster was one of the stalwarts of the LPGA Tour from the 1980s into the 2010s, a player whose long career included many victories and wins in majors, plus universal respect and admiration from her peers.

Inkster was born on June 24, 1960, in Santa Cruz., Calif. She turned pro following a record-setting amateur career, and was still playing occasional LPGA events into her 50s. Along the way, she was both a player and a team captain in the Solheim Cup.

Inkster's Tour Victories

  • LPGA Tour: 31 (these tournament wins are listed below)
  • Ladies European Tour: 2
  • Legends Tour: 4
  • Major Championships: 7 as a pro, three as an amateur

Inkster won the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship three consecutive years, 1980-82. As a pro, her first major victories happened in 1984, when she won both the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the du Maurier Classic. A second KNC title came in 1989. Inkster won the LPGA Championship in 1999 and 2000, and the U.S. Women's Open in 1999 and 2002.

Awards and Honors for Juli Inkster

  • Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
  • Member, U.S. Curtis Cup team, 1982
  • Member, U.S. Solheim Cup team, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011
  • Captain, U.S. Solheim Cup team, 2015, 2017, 2019

Juli Inkster Biography

Juli Inkster graduated from the California junior ranks to the top ranks of the LPGA Tour, winning majors in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000-aughts.

As a child, Inkster practiced before and after school each day at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif. She eventually became an employee at the course and met her future husband there.

When she wasn't working, she was playing golf. Inkster played collegiately at San Jose State University from 1979-82, earing All-American status three of those years. She won the 1981 California Amateur, was named California's Amateur of the Year in 1981 and the Bay Area Athlete of the Year in 1982.

Her greatest glory as an amateur was in USGA competition: Inkster won the U.S. Women's Amateur three straight years, 1980-82.

In 1983 Inkster turned pro and joined the LPGA Tour in time to play eight tournaments. It only took her five before she won her first LPGA title. Her official rookie season was 1984, and that year she became the first-ever LPGA rookie to win two majors (Kraft Nabisco Championship and du Maurier Classic). She easily earned the Rookie of the Year award.

Inkster was a consistent threat through the rest of the 1980s and early 1990s. Some of her biggest wins came in playoffs over the biggest names: Pat Bradley, Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel and Betsy King. But in 1992, Inkster twice lost majors in playoffs, the Nabisco to Dottie Pepper and U.S. Women's Open to Patty Sheehan.

Then she fell into a slump. Inkster didn't win a tournament from 1993-97. By this time she had two daughters, and she struggled to balance golf and family. She had averaged two wins a year until 1990, when her first daughter was born. Inkster was one of the first LPGA members, perhaps after only Lopez, to start a family while still trying to maintain the highest level of play on tour.

And Inkster got back on track in the late 1990s, then won the LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open in 1999, completing a career grand slam. She won five times total that year and qualified for the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Perhaps her finest moment came in 2002 when Inkster shot a final-round 66 to catch and pass Annika Sorenstam and win her second U.S. Women's Open.

Inkster continued as a threat on the LPGA Tour into her late 40s and even after turning 50, while also serving as a mentor and role model for many younger players on tour.

Inkster at the Solheim Cup

Along with her 31 career LPGA wins and seven major championship victories, Inkster's better-known achievements included a record-setting career in the Solheim Cup. Inkster played for Team USA nine times, which was the American record at the time of her last appearance as a player in the 2011 Solheim Cup.

At that 2011 tournament, Inkster established the record for oldest Solheim Cup player. She was 51 years and two months old. At that time, Inkster also held the American record for most match victories, and she still shares the overall Solheim Cup record with six career singles wins.

In 2015, her days as a Solheim Cup player over, Inkster was named Team USA captain and led the squad to a victory over Team Europe. In 2017, Inkster repeated as captain and Team USA repeated as winner. And she has been named captain again for the 2019 Cup, where she will become the first American to serve as team captain at three different Solheim Cups.

Quote, Unquote

  • "I never thought I could do what I'm doing now. I didn't think it would get as good as it has gotten." — Inkster
  • "No one has ever conquered this game. One week out there you're God, the next time you are the devil." — Inkster

Juli Inkster Trivia

  • In 1984, Juli Inkster became the first golfer to win two LPGA majors in her rookie season. (Se Ri Pak later did it in 1998.)
  • Inkster holds the women's record for most collegiate victories, winning 17 tournaments during her four years at San Jose State.
  • In 13 of Inkster's 31 LPGA wins, the runner-up was, like Inkster herself, a future Hall of Famer. That includes each of Inkster's first five wins.

Tour Wins By Juli Inkster

These are the 31 LPGA Tour events won by Inkster, listed in chronological order:

  • 1983 Safeco Classic
  • 1984 Nabisco Dinah Shore
  • 1984 du Maurier Classic
  • 1985 Lady Keystone Open
  • 1986 Women's Kemper Open
  • 1986 McDonald's Championship
  • 1986 Lady Keystone Open
  • 1986 Atlantic City LPGA Classic
  • 1988 Crestar Classic
  • 1988 Atlantic City Classic
  • 1988 Safeco Classic
  • 1989 Nabisco Dinah Shore
  • 1989 Crestar Classic
  • 1991 LPGA Bay State Classic
  • 1992 JAL Big Apple Classic
  • 1997 Samsung World Championship of Women's Golf
  • 1998 Samsung World Championship of Women's Golf
  • 1999 Welch's/Circle K Championship
  • 1999 Longs Drugs Challenge
  • 1999 U.S. Women's Open
  • 1999 McDonald's LPGA Championship
  • 1999 Safeway LPGA Golf Championship
  • 2000 Longs Drugs Challenge
  • 2000 LPGA Championship
  • 2000 Samsung World Championship
  • 2001 Electrolux USA Championship
  • 2002 Chick-fil-A Charity Championship
  • 2002 U.S. Women's Open
  • 2003 LPGA Corning Classic
  • 2003 Evian Masters
  • 2006 Safeway International