Longtime champion and PNGA volunteer Liz Culver passed away on January 13 at the age of 79. The mark she leaves on the Northwest golf community is large, larger than you would imagine from this gentle, gracious and broadminded woman.
As a dedicated PNGA Women’s Advisory Committee Chairwoman, serving in that volunteer position from 1968-83, Liz was instrumental in establishing the PNGA Women’s Division in 1984. She also served on many championship committees for the USGA and various Northwest golf associations. A testament to Liz’s dedication to the PNGA and her longevity as a fine player is her participation in every PNGA Women’s Amateur Championship from 1960 through 1998, with the exception of one year (1984) due to illness. (In late 1983 she suffered kidney failure, eventually having to have a kidney transplant.) She won the championship in 1978, and also the PNGA Senior Women’s Amateur in 1989. She won the WSWGA championship in 1970 and ’72. The award given to the qualifying medalist at the PNGA Women’s Amateur is still called the Liz Culver Medalist Trophy, and as often as she could she was on hand each year to personally present the trophy at the championship’s banquet.
Liz was a legend at Overlake Golf & Country Club in Medina, Wash. and throughout the Northwest for decades. In 2003, she was awarded Overlake’s prestigious “Keeper of the Game” award, which is given “in recognition of a commitment to the game of golf and its classic virtues, and the belief that the essence of the game must not be lost in a world where change outpaces perspective.” She won the Overlake Women’s Club Championship an astounding 23 times, and was runner-up five times.
Liz was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame in 1989, being introduced at the ceremony by great friend Judy Thompson, who would go on to serve as Chair of the PNGA Hall of Fame Committee.
An educator by profession, Liz taught one year at Pembroke College at Brown University in Rhode Island before coming to the University of Washington as a Research Assistant in 1957. In 1966 Liz became an Associate Professor and earned her Masters Degree at the UW, teaching physical education to students and aspiring P.E. teachers.
A truly inquisitive, restless and joyous spirit, Liz was interested in everything around her. She wrote a book and produced videos on bowling. She was an owner of Action Fashions, a rainwear company, from 1981-2008. She was a sports enthusiast and Life Member of the UW Alumni Association, attending all of the Husky football games until her death. Besides golf, she also enjoyed skiing and traveling. Her favorite place to go was the Oregon Coast and walking the beach and playing golf at Gearhart Golf Links.
Liz was best known for that fabric of graciousness and sportsmanship that blankets few of our greatest women’s champions. Like the champions who have come before her and after her, we all respect these women for their championships, and love them for their character and grace in victory. We like to see them win, and we love to see them in the bar afterward, thanking their vanquished competitors and buying them drinks. We curse the 30-footer dropped on us in match play, and regale in the tale told around the table after, the coveted hardware sitting in the corner, ignored momentarily for the more important post-round socializing and friend-making. For Liz Culver, golf was just as much about the friendships as the championships, but make no mistake, she was a fierce competitor and worthy of a steely battleship named after her.
A celebration of Liz’s life will be held Wednesday, March 6 at 1:00pm, at Lake City Presbyterian Church, 3841 NE 123rd St, Seattle, WA 98125; phone number is 206-362-6878. For more information, call Overlake Golf & Country Club at 425-454-5031 or the PNGA office at 800-643-6410.
All are invited to attend the service, so that we can all remember this great lady, this star that shone all-too-briefly in our sky.