Sandra Palmer is forever a "Dinah" champion
Updated: Apr 9
Sandra Palmer is ok. We think she's way better than ok, but in her usual understated way, the 1975 winner of the Colgate Dinah Shore Winner's Circle and 19-time LPGA Tour champion relayed that her unfortunate tumble while attempting a commemorative leap into Poppie's Pond last Sunday injured nothing more than her pride. “My foot got caught on something on that downward slope," noted the 79-year-old Palmer, whose win at Mission Hills came well before the traditional leap began when Amy Alcott spontaneously jumped into a much murkier pool after her victory in 1988. "It was steeper than I estimated. Not one of my finest moments as an athlete, I'll admit. Patty Sheehan ran full speed into a front flip and made a big splash." LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer Sheehan, 65, told FORE! Fridays she was thinking about that front flip for her final leap the whole time. "This girl can't jump very high," said Sheehan, "So I knew I had to jump outward more because of the false front on the lake. It was so fun - and very refreshing," smiled Sheehan, whose 35th and final win on the LPGA Tour came at the Nabisco Dinah Shore in 1996 when she edged three players by one stroke, including Annika Sörenstam. "I think Patty could have done front flips all the way into the water, but that’s Patty. I guess I just didn’t want to get my hair wet," chuckled Palmer, who described the historic major's last week at Mission Hills Country Club as a "bittersweet celebration." "We have sad feelings about the tournament relocating and about leaving history behind," says Palmer, "but the Chevron people could not be nicer, and they are committed. Maybe they want to make their own history now, and that’s ok.”
Sandra Palmer joined her LPGA peers for one last hurrah in the desert during the Chevron Championship tournament week.
Wherever Chevron takes it from here, Palmer is adamant about preserving her own memories as a champion at Mission Hills. "This tournament has always been the Dinah to me," says Palmer, well aware of the eight name changes applied across five decades to accommodate shifts in sponsor support. "I want to be known as a Dinah Shore champion, no matter what the event’s name has changed to over the years.” "I always think of Dinah and what she created – the pro-ams, the friendships along the way, what she brought to the whole world at the time," adds Palmer. "Dinah didn’t play golf initially, but she worked hard on her game and got better. I was excited to be able to play with her in the pro-am the year after I won. That was the tradition, and it was as much of an incentive to win that tournament as the trophy – a chance to play with Dinah. It was an honor.” Palmer remembers Shore, who passed away in 1994, as outgoing and energetic - a breath of fresh air who would celebrate good golf shots with uninhibited joy and enthusiasm. "She was like sunshine, and she made the pro-ams fun," recalls Palmer, who has been a member at Mission Hills since becoming the fourth player to win Dinah's event - after Jane Blalock, Mickey Wright and Jo Ann Prentice. Twenty-six more champions followed, including three-time winners Alcott, Betsy King and Sörenstam and two-time champions Sandra Post, Juli Inkster, Dottie Pepper, Karrie Webb and Brittany Lincicome, the last player to repeat with wins in 2009 and 2015. "I’ve been in a love affair with Mission Hills Country Club since becoming a member in 1975," says Palmer. "It’s a beautiful golf course. Wherever the tournament is played next, I can guarantee they won’t have as incredible a view.” For the Road: Putting Insights with Sandra Palmer
"The ball never has a chance to go in if it ends up on the low side," says Palmer, who noticed a lot of balls finishing under the hole on the greens at Mission Hills last weekend. "You have to have enough speed and read it right, but the ball has a better chance to drop from the high side, or the pro side, as we like to call it."
Palmer said tournament champion Jennifer Kupcho looked "very, very good" over her putter all weekend. "Her tempo was outstanding," observed Palmer, who recently downloaded a metronome app on her phone to help her with her own rhythm in putting. "It gives me that tick, tock for a perfectly timed stroke," she says.
"Tiger is hitting every putt at virtually the same speed," says Palmer. "He is consistently past the hole just 6”-12” on misses, according to Justin Thomas. The Masters greens are very severe – you can’t see the severity on TV, but when you are there in person, it’s unbelievable."
PHOTO CREDIT: Patty Ross
Shared from Fore! Fridays, a weekly e-pub of stories and conversation starters designed to help you look good, play better and know more when it comes to golf.