Glenna Collett Vare

Glenna Collett Vare
"To make oneself a successful match-player, there are certain qualities to be sought after, certain ideas must be kept in mind, and certain phases of one's attitude towards the game that come in for special notice. The three I have taken are these: love of combat, serenity of mind and fearlessness."
- Glenna Collett Vare

Induction Category:

Born: 1903

Died: 1989

Inducted: 2007

Town: New Haven

America’s “First Lady of Golf,” Glenna Collett Vare, dominated the field of women’s golf in the 1920s, winning six U.S. Amateur Championships, two Canadian Ladies Opens, and the French Ladies Open. She continued to play well into her 80s and was inducted into both the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975 and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Glenna Collett was born in New Haven, Conn., and raised in Providence, R.I. The Colletts were a family of sports lovers and Glenna had ample opportunity to show her athletic talents early in life. Whether in the pool as a swimmer and diver, on the tennis court, or on the baseball field with her brother and neighbors, she could certainly hold her own. In 1917, when she was just 14 years old, she asked her father if she could try her hand at golf. Her parents had been hoping their daughter would take to a sport more feminine than baseball, and when she drove the ball more than 100 yards on her first attempt, it became clear that she belonged on the green.

Just two short years after she picked up her first club, she was winning titles. She won her first-round match in the U.S. Women’s Amateur and Golf Championship in 1919 and by 1921 posted the Championship’s lowest qualifying score. She went on to dominate the sport over the course of the decade, winning title after title, both in the U.S. and abroad. She attributed much of her success to the persistence of her coach, Alex Smith, a golf professional in his own right. She was also highly superstitious and had particular hats she would wear in specific tournament situations. However, it was clearly her capacity to drive the ball long distances that was the true key to her continued success.

In 1931, Glenna Collett married Edwin Vare and began a family, producing two children. Though she took up more traditional activities like needlepoint, Vare continued to make her way to the golf course when time permitted. In 1987, at the age of 83, she played her 62nd Point Judith Invitational.

Glenna Collett Vare died in 1989 after a battle with lymphoma.

During This Time
1946 - 1965: Women’s Activism in Conservative Times