Happy Hump Day Obots!
Today we highlight a golfing extraordinaire.
It is an unfortunate oversight that when great female players are cited, it is rare for Ann Gregory to be mentioned. She literally changed the complexion of golf.
She was born Ann Moore in Aberdeen, Mississippi in July 1912. Given that time and place, being a pioneering golfer had to be one of the farthest things from the girl’s mind. But she was athletic, and when the Moore family moved to Gary, Indiana in the early 1930s, Ann took up tennis. At the age of 25, she won the Gary City Championship.
In 1939, she married Leroy “Percy” Gregory. Three years later their only child, JoAnn, was born. Percy enjoyed playing golf and he taught his wife how to play. After he was drafted into the Navy, Ann continued to play. By the time her husband returned from the war in 1945, she had improved significantly as a player.
Though she was a relatively aged 38, 1950 was the breakthrough year for Ann Gregory. She had become an excellent player and, as an amateur, decided to enter competitive tournaments. She almost ran the table, winning six of seven tourneys, including the National UGA Tournament in Washington D.C.
She continued to compete against the top female amateurs in the country – all of whom were white – and traveled to participate in events overseas, where a black female championship player was viewed as quite unique. Ann made headlines in 1956 when she became the first African American to enter the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, held in Indianapolis. She didn’t win, but the door had been opened.
Ann and Percy were married for 50 years. In 1989, only months after his death, and at age 76, she beat all the players over 50 to win the gold medal at the U.S. Senior Olympics. A few months after that, having over 300 victories worldwide, Ann Gregory died.