Anne Sander's remarkable golf career spanned several decades and included championships at the state, regional, national and international levels. Because of her myriad accomplishments, Anne was a major influence on Northwest golf. And, along the way, the PNGA and the Northwest golf scene helped her become one of the premier amateur women players in the latter half of the 20th Century. Anne (Quast) Sander, JoAnne (Gunderson) Carner, and Marlene (Stewart) Streit of Canada were amateur golf's "Golden Girls" during this period. Marlene won in Canada, Great Britain, the United States and Australia, JoAnne took America by storm, and Anne brought home major American and British titles. Each also represented their countries on international teams.
The Early Years
Reverend Carl Norgard of Everett had no idea what would come later after he innocently gave a three-year-old Anne Quast three little clubs, a bag and some golf balls. As Anne grew older, her parents, who owned Cedarcrest Golf Course in Marysville, bought her ever-longer clubs, and Cedarcrest regulars began taking her along on their rounds.
Young Anne's first formal golf lessons were the result of her mother's attempt at learning to play the game. Neither of her parents had played golf. Anne tagged along with her mother, who began taking lessons from Ken Tucker, the professional at Everett Golf & Country Club. Her mother never could master the game, but Tucker saw potential in the youngster and continued instructing her. After a few years, Anne joined the Everett club, where she received considerable support and encouragement from the members over the years.
First Steps in the Competitive Arena
At age 12, Anne played in her first tournament, the Snohomish County Women's Golf Association Championship. She finished as the runner-up in the third flight (later winning the event in 1954). In 1951 Helen Ingram and Helene Kendall asked the Quasts if they could drive Anne to Jackson Park Golf Course so she could compete in the Washington State Women's Public Links Association Championship. At that tournament, she was an instant success, finishing as runner-up.
In 1952 Anne's potential continued to shine through. In the PNGA Women's Amateur Championship at Fircrest Golf Club, she lost to Lillian Schassen in the second round. She then was the finalist in the Oregon Junior Championship. Because of that success, her mother took Anne to the Monterey Peninsula Country Club for the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship. After tying for medalist honors with Mickey Wright, Anne lost in the semifinals to Barbara McIntyre. (Wright would go on to win the event, 1-up.) On the return trip home, the 14-year-old Quast stopped at Waverley Country Club in an attempt to qualify for the U.S. Women's Amateur.
Much to the surprise of the organizers and especially tournament chairperson, Marian McDougall Herron, Anne qualified. She became the youngest woman ever to earn a berth in the U.S. Women's Amateur and, consequently, an instant darling of the USGA. Anne's outstanding future as a tournament-caliber player was underscored at the tournament when, as a 14-year-old, she defeated the favorite, Mrs. Babe Freeze Bowman, the PNGA women's champion in 1947 and reigning Trans-Mississippi champion.
Anne recalled, "No one had ever heard of me. I didn't know how hard the game was then, and I really became determined because I realized I could compete. When practicing, I would always dream about making a 10-foot putt to win the U.S. Women's Amateur." Another Northwesterner, Pat Lesser, later defeated Quast in the second round.
As with athletes vying in other sports, golfers must combine natural talent with endless hours of practice to reach the top. In this regard, Anne was extremely fortunate in being supported by members of Seattle's Broadmoor Golf Club, who let her use their practice facility while she attended the nearby Helen Bush School. She spent hours on the practice tee, honing her skills and learning how to "work" the ball left and right. At this time, she changed instructors from Tucker to Chuck Congdon, Tacoma Country & Golf Club's pro. As she pounded ball after ball on the practice range, Broadmoor's members sensed her repeatedly playing an imaginary, memorable shot. Perhaps she was hitting the final shot that would win a U.S. Women's Amateur, the "gold" at the end of American golf's rainbow.
Shooting For New Goals
Anne's goal over the next decade was to become the best woman golfer in the United States and play her way onto the Curtis Cup Team. Unfortunately for the region and the PNGA, this desire for national awards restricted her participation in Northwest events. In 1955 and 1956, she won Washington State Women's Golf Association titles. She was less successful in the PNGA Women's Amateur Championship, reaching the semifinals twice in 1954 and 1955. Throughout the 1960's Anne played in only a few tournaments a year, and these were generally national-caliber events.
Later, while attending Stanford University, Anne's game was elevated to the premier level by the legendary Bud Ward, another Northwest native. She later recalled her first encounter with Ward at Stanford. "Bud's the one who really made it possible for me to finally win. In 1955 I hit a few balls for him. He was a tough character. He said, 'Why are you wasting all this money coming here? All you care about is school and boys.' I got so mad that I was going to prove to him I could do it. When I won the 1958 Women's title, I could hardly wait to see him again.
"When I did see him, he immediately retorted, 'That was pretty good. But you know that anyone can win once. That's a nice lady-like swing (you have), but if I set the pins, you'll never break 80,' (because at that time I drew every shot)." Ward was speaking from experience; he'd won U.S. Amateur titles in 1939 and 1941. "My determination wasn't just my own, '' Anne said. "It was also the determination that he instilled in me. Bud quit charging me for lessons once he realized that I really did care."
The Dawning of a Great Rivalry
In 1951 JoAnne Gunderson and Anne Quast began one of the greatest rivalries in the history of women's golf. They met for the first time on a practice fairway before the Washington State Junior Girls' event. "I'll never forget it," Anne told golf writer, Rhonda Glenn. "JoAnne came right up to me and said, 'Whatcha practicing for? Afraid I'm going to beat you?' "
Though friends, the two women were polar opposites. JoAnne was a robust and carefree extrovert whose antics on the course were clownish and carefree. Anne was slight and tightly strung, always attempting to be in control of her emotions. Gunderson was a crowd-pleaser, while her rival was cool and emotionless.
Anne and "Gundy" competed against each other in many events. Quast's first victory over Gunderson came in the 1958 U.S. Women's Amateur. "I had to make a three-foot, downhill putt to win," she recalled. "The ball wasn't in the hole yet, and I swear JoAnne was [already] throwing her arms around me." She later opined that Gunderson's reaction stemmed from a 1955 tournament in which Anne missed five three-foot putts. After the ball went in, Gunderson said, "I knew you would make it." Such spontaneity was typical of the "Great Gundy." She was an intriguing mix, showing generosity to opponents while, at other times, displaying cockiness and arrogance. When Gunderson turned professional in 1970, a great rivalry in American golf ended.
In 1961 Anne satisfied Ward's admonition by controlling the U.S. Women's Amateur at Tacoma Country & Golf Club like no woman had done before. She was never over par in any match and, incredibly, lost only six holes through the entire tournament. Her score over 112 holes was an exemplary nine-under par. Anne was recognized for her win in 1961 by being selected as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer "Man of the Year." A couple of years later, in 1963, Anne pleased Ward again by winning a third U.S. Women's Amateur title.
Following Bud's death in 1969, Anne's golfing career faded while she tried to fix swing problems on her own. She recalled this difficult period. "Whether I was just unable to manage it alone, or because different methods may succeed at different ages, whatever I was doing no longer worked."
The drought happened while she and her husband, Steve Sander, lived in Great Britain from 1974 to 1979. While there, she learned the difficulties of playing on British courses; the cold and windy climate made maintaining and developing a consistent game very difficult. The low point came in 1979 when Sander failed to qualify for the British Women's Amateur Championship.
Getting off the Canvas in Fine Fashion
Upon returning to the U.S. in the fall of 1979, Anne began taking lessons from Billy Derickson, a professional at Puetz Driving Range in Seattle. After making some major changes to her swing that winter, she returned to the British Woman's Amateur. Armed with a new confidence and an extra-long graphite driver, Anne Sander won the tournament.
The victory was a watershed event in a great amateur career. Anne Sander was now an international champion, a rarity in the history of women's amateur golf. Even more amazingly, Sander, like Jack Nicklaus, has the distinction of winning a major event in every decade of her active playing career. Pat Ward-Thomas, the noted British golf writer, hypothesizes on this unusual ability. "The successes achieved by Anne Sander and Jack Nicklaus can be attributed to their infrequency of competition." He goes on to suggest that a golfer has a limit to his or her nerves, and frequent competition works against longevity.
In the May/June 1984 issue of Golf Journal, Anne Sander outlined her goals in golf.
"I developed the belief that the most significant way I could contribute to golf was to demonstrate that it was possible to remain an amateur, live a complete and normal life, compete on a limited basis, yet remain competitive at the highest level. I haven't been able to achieve this consistently through the entire period, but that has remained my goal, and my inspiration is to try to keep coming back. On the personal side, there has been a combination of influences. One of those is rooted in my relationship with JoAnne [Carner]. Gundy and I, growing up 30 miles apart in the Seattle area, became both friends and archrivals. I probably could not have kept up with her even if I had tried, but I have wanted very much to do something a bit unique in golf on my own level, on my own terms."
There is no question that the Pacific Northwest has never had a more formidable champion than Anne Sander in its midst. The hours of practice at Broadmoor led to perfection; one only has to view her trophy case for proof.