Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass. – Great Britain and Ireland’s Bridget Jackson is one of her team’s most devoted supporters. She’s a three-time player (1958, ’64 and ’68) and for many years was a selector who helped determine the players on the GB&I team.
With Diane Bailey, Jackson is the only other person on this site who has the MBE, Member of the British Empire. She was just a child during World War II but even though she was just four years old, she well remembers the day her grandmother and aunt were killed by German bombs.
The German plane was flying back to its base and the pilot just decided to unleash a string of bombs as he returned, Jackson recalled. One of them fell on the house where my grandmother and aunt were and I remember my father getting a call to come quickly.
It was an odd and fateful occurrence, one of many in Jackson’s life. Most of these events, however, fortunately happened in golf. In 1958, when Irish player Philomena Garvey withdrew because the LGU had not included the Irish flag in its Curtis Cup emblem, it was Jackson, as the reserve, who got the nod to play. That year, at Brae Burn C.C., the GB&I Team, having won in 1956, retained the Curtis Cup by tying the USA.
Jackson also played at Royal Porthcawl in 1964 and lost to the cheery Peggy Conley in singles, 1 up. I lost to her on the last hole and I was later told that when she hit a sweeping hook off the 18th tee, Henry Longhurst (the large and famous British journalist and broadcaster) got in the way of the ball and it stayed in bounds, Jackson said.
Jackson played her way into the final of the British Ladies Open Amateur against Carol Sorenson and again fate intervened. All square after 36, they teed off on the 37th. I hit a most superb 4-iron for my approach but it went through the green, she recalled. Carol went down a club, hit the green, and thank you very much.
The 37th was a key hole more than once in Jackson’s life. She also won the Canadian Women’s Open Amateur on the 37th. And Peggy Conley reappeared in the 1968 Curtis Cup match, Jackson’s last as a GB&I player. Jackson was told by a teammate that on the 18th hole, Conley’s wayward ball rebounded off a spectator and got kicked back toward the green. They halved the match.
But I am convinced that as many good things as bad happen to you in golf, Jackson chuckled.
For so many Curtis Cup Matches, Jackson was there. She was there when GB&I won one cup and there when it lost two. She was there as a selector when Laura Davies was chosen for the 1984 Curtis Cup GB&I Team, a controversial selection because some said Davies was not ready. Of course, Davies was one of the most naturally talented of all women golfers, winning the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open in a playoff at Plainfield (N.J.) Country Club and dozens of other titles.
Jackson was there in 1986 when GB&I reemerged at Prairie Dunes C.C. in Hutchinson, Kan., winning for the first time on American soil and for the third time outright. She was there when GB&I won in 1988 and 1992, tied in ’94 and won again in 1996.
And she is here at Essex County Club, hoping for yet another GB&I victory, a survivor of many of golf’s battles and the happy recipient of many of its honors.
Rhonda Glenn is a manager of communications for the USGA. E-mail her with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.