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Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Famer Carole Jo Kabler Passes

Carole Jo Kabler, who was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame in 2009, passed away on Thursday, March 16, of pulmonary disease. She was 78.

Born in Eugene, Ore. on June 13, 1938, Kabler made an auspicious debut on Oregon’s golfing scene as a young 16-year-old, serving notice that she was an up-and-coming star by posting some incredible scores.  After winning the 1954 Oregon Junior Girls’ title, she added the Portland Women’s City Amateur title at Eastmoreland Golf Course, beating Mrs. Dick Grubbs of Rose City Golf Course in the final by shooting an amazing six-under-par 69 en route to an 8 & 7 victory.  In the Portland tournament, Kabler was as hot as a firecracker, firing nine birdies during the 29-hole match.

In 1955 at Florence Country Club in South Carolina, Carole Jo defeated JoAnne Gunderson, 4 & 3, in the final of the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship.  Again, she went on an under-par binge, posting four birdies over the first nine holes.  Gunderson never recovered from the onslaught.

After being the bridesmaid in the 1955 and 1956 PNGA Women’s Amateur Championships, Carole Jo was determined to take the silverware home in the 1957 event, co-hosted by Hayden Lake Country Club and Spokane Country Club.  Amy Lou Young, granddaughter of the 1924 PNGA Women’s champion. Mrs. H.O. Young, made Kabler’s quest much easier when she defeated one of the pre-tournament favorites, Gunderson, in the semifinals.

Kabler was 6-up in the morning round.  While heading to the locker room, she detoured through the clubhouse to inspect the trophy awarded to the winner.  She stared at the prize for some time, oblivious to observers.  When a bystander asked, “Shopping for silverware?,” Carole Jo acknowledged the comment with her usual infectious smile.  It was a look of confidence, one shown by her play in the morning round.

The final round exemplified the difficulties the women had in playing in the tournament.  Mrs. Young did not have the luxury of playing a practice round at the site prior to her final with Kabler.  In fact, she had never even seen the course.  Meanwhile, Kabler managed to get in nine holes on the Friday before her final.  Carole Jo’s caddie, Cliff Lovett, was also familiar with the course, since he had played the PNGA Men’s Amateur Championship there before trying to qualify for that event.  (The format was altered in 1962, thus allowing practice rounds to participants.)

Due to family commitments, Carole Jo never competed in another PNGA event after 1957.  She continued to play in the Oregon Women’s Amateur Championship, winning titles in 1961, 1962 and 1965 (following a previous win in 1955).

Kabler’s Accomplishments

  • Oregon Junior Girls’ Champion 1954 & 1955
  • Portland (Ore.) Women’s City Amateur Champion 1954
  • U.S. Girls’ Junior Champion 1955
  • Oregon Women’s Amateur Champion 1955, 1961, 1962 & 1965
  • PNGA Women’s Amateur Champion 1957; Finalist 1955 & 1956
  • Women’s Trans-National Amateur Champion 1968; Medalist 1962
  • Inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame 2009