Past Competitors Discuss Curtis Cup Experience June 4, 2014 By USGA

Past Curtis Cup members Kellee Booth, Carol S. Thompson, Martha Lang and Jane (Bastanchury) Booth took part in a Q&A session. (USGA/John Mummert)

To kick off the festivities for the 2014 Curtis Cup Match at St. Louis Country Club, the USGA invited four past USA competitors to take part in a panel discussion for invited guests on June 3. Mike Trostel, the senior curator/historian for the USGA Museum, emceed the discussion with Jane (Bastanchury) Booth (1970, 1972, 1974), her daughter Kellee Booth (1996, 1998), immediate past chairman of the USGA Women’s Committee Martha Lang (1992) and 12-time competitor Carol Semple Thompson, who owns the all-time record for appearances and points. All but Kellee Booth are past Curtis Cup captains and all but Jane Booth are past USGA champions, with Thompson owning seven. Jane and Kellee Booth remain the only mother-daughter duo to have competed in the Curtis Cup Match.

What are your memories of getting that call informing you that you made your first Curtis Cup Team?

Carol Semple Thompson: I was in awe when I was named. I did sort of expect to, because I had managed to win the [1973] U.S. Women’s Amateur. It had always been a dream of mine. When I was 15, I went to my first Curtis Cup Match in Wales with my parents. There was a 16-year-old playing on the team then and I thought this was impossible. How could someone so young play on a team like the Curtis Cup Team? It was Peggy Conley. From that time on, I truly wanted to make the Curtis Cup Team. When I got on that first team, it was fantastic. I played like a dog, but I was just thrilled.

Kellee Booth: With my mom’s history of playing on the Curtis Cup Team, it was quite a thrill to actually be selected and know that I was going to compete for the U.S. Representing your country … the chills that you get when you see the flag raised and the national anthem is being played is something that still gives me the chills today. To know that I had an opportunity to represent my country and compete at the highest level of amateur golf is something that was such an honor.

Martha Lang: I was totally overwhelmed. It was such a wonderful honor to play on the team. One of the things I remember, I got to be with eight – and I’m including our captain, Judy Oliver – of the most wonderful women in the world and the greatest golfers. I was thinking a week with these people is going to be fantastic. And it was.

Jane (Bastanchury) Booth: My first Curtis Cup was in 1970. It was Brae Burn Country Club, which is a wonderful golf course near Boston. I made that team with two of my best friends, Cindy Hill and Martha Wilkinson [now Kirouac]. Martha was from California and Cindy was from Michigan. And that was very special for me because we had played the previous summer together trying to make this team. So, it was really special and we had a great captain in Carolyn Cudone, who was a wonderful player and won [five consecutive U.S. Senior Women’s Amateurs]. Alice Dye was on that team, too.

Most golf events you play in are individual competitions, but the Curtis Cup is a team event. How did that aspect make it special?

Kellee Booth: I know from my experience, I was coming out of college [at Arizona State], so I was a little familiar with team golf, but not necessarily playing with a partner or playing foursomes (alternate-shot). It puts a little more pressure on you, but it also builds so much camaraderie among all of us.

Lang: The team aspect was so much fun for me. When we saw all these girls [from the 2014 USA Team] do this [singing] skit, we used to do all of that every day. And they just weren’t little skits. They were productions. And I will say the year Carol [Semple Thompson] and I played on the same team [in 1992] Carol wore a pink tutu as a costume (laughing). She was good.

Jane Booth: I did play college golf and we did have some [women’s] teams, but they weren’t as important as the Curtis Cup Team. Just the friendships we made, and I knew a lot of the players. And the other [two] teams that I was on, just the camaraderie and the great friendships, and we are still friends today. And we see each other at the Curtis Cups and it’s always fun to come back and see old friends.

Thompson: I certainly want to echo what Jane just said about friendships. That was the most important thing in this whole Match. I did not play any college golf, so it was a big team thing for me to be on the Curtis Cup Team. The one thing I want to say about these skits, the more lavish they became, the more we ended up losing in these matches. The one year Martha [Lang] and I were on [Captain] Judy Oliver’s team, she took two duffel bags of costumes with her to England, so we had to go every night and practice our song.

Can you talk about some of the lifelong friendships – not just from the USA side, but also Great Britain & Ireland – that you developed as a result of playing in this competition?

Kellee Booth: Most of my friendships were with my teammates, having played with [2014 captain] Ellen Port, so it was really important for me to come this week and support her. Obviously my partners, Sarah [Lebrun] Ingram, as well as Brenda (Corrie) Kuehn, those are friendships I will have for as long as I live. In addition, I made friendships with players I’m sure you’re familiar with, like Mhairi McKay from Scotland, as well as Janice Moodie (Scotland) and Karen Stupples (England), who I played my two singles matches against when I played in Killarney (Ireland). Having played with them on [the LPGA] Tour, it solidified those friendships. Those are people I will stay in touch with my whole life.

Lang: One of the things that is so nice is every two years we come back and we see some of those same people and we reunite. It makes it all the more special to see them every couple of years. That’s not only the players from the United States, but also the GB&I side. And so many we see on [the LPGA] Tour now and I think, wow that was really cool.

Jane Booth: I played with some wonderful people and we are still friends today. Carol [Semple Thompson] and Mary Budke, who is here tonight. I’ve known Mary since junior golf and she won the U.S. Women’s Amateur here in 1972 and was a past captain of the Curtis Cup and a player. I played with her [in the 1974 Match] in San Francisco. It’s great to come back every two years and see everyone again.

Thompson: Certainly, I have made so many American friends, but I have to say from Great Britain & Ireland, I have so many good friends, too. And they aren’t necessarily just the players. A lot are from the administrative end [with the Ladies Golf Union]. A lot of the officials who come on a regular basis have become very close friends. It’s a big event. It’s just wonderful.

The last question is just simply what is your favorite Curtis Cup memory?

Kellee Booth: Mine is probably Minikahda Club [in 1998]. [The USA] had been struggling for a number of years (two losses and a tie). And playing with Brenda [Corrie Kuehn]. How [captain] Barbara McIntire came up with this [foursomes] pairing is kind of interesting. Most people from the outside were saying: “Kellee and Brenda? I’m not so sure about that.” But we had the magic that week. We really found our groove. They talk about getting in a zone and Brenda and I both found it that week. We both were lucky to not only play with each other, but also go on and be very successful in singles. Probably the putt I made on 17 to win my singles match on Sunday afternoon was my biggest moment. It was one of those things where we knew we needed two points. And Brenda and I were the first two matches out. I made that putt on 17 to get that first point in the afternoon. She came through on 17 as well to get that securing, winning point. Having done that and knowing we did that together was probably my greatest Curtis Cup moment.

Lang: I’m not sure which moment was my greatest. But I really enjoyed the foursomes. I think that is such a fun part of Curtis Cup and something we don’t do often. Robin Weiss and I were partners and we had a great time. And I hope this week everybody will enjoy watching the foursomes, because it’s such an integral part of the Curtis Cup.

Jane Booth: It’s hard, because there are so many great ones. San Francisco [1974] was a special one because it was my last one. We played San Francisco Golf Club, which is a wonderful golf course. And I had not had very much success with foursomes. I got Anne Sander as a partner, and of course she has a wonderful amateur record. She and I just clicked and we won both of those foursomes matches. That was really fun for me because I had struggled so much [in my past two Curtis Cups]. I had good partners. I had Barbara McIntire and Shelley Hamlin, who were great players, in the other two Curtis Cups, but we just never clicked. And then I really clicked in San Francisco.

Thompson: I’m torn between my two favorite moments. One was, of course, the pink tutu (laughter). The second is the last putt I ever hit in the Curtis Cup Match. That was at Fox Chapel [2002]. I was 53 years old, the old lady of the team. It was my hometown [of Pittsburgh] and I did knock in a 27-foot putt, breaking right to left that I couldn’t make today if I tried 100 times, to win my match and a point, which secured the deciding point for the overall match. The putter that Mike brought with him [from the USGA Museum] is very special to me.