Dubuque | Inducted 2013 | Category: Amateur Golfer

From phenom to finished product. That sums up the short but successful golf career of Sharon Fladoos Smallwood. She took up the sport at the age of nine and won the first tournament she entered, the Dubuque Junior, when she was 10. She was 11 when she played in the Iowa Junior Girls’ Amateur for the first time, and her Iowa Women’s Amateur debut came at 12.

Sharon was 13 in 1956 when she became the youngest player to reach the semifinals of the USGA Girls’ Junior Championship. She lost, 4 and 3, to future World Golf Hall of Famer JoAnne Gunderson Carner. Sharon was also runner-up that year in both the Iowa Junior Girls’ Amateur and the Iowa Women’s Amateur.

She would go on to dominate the state in women’s golf before stepping away from competition before the start of the 1964 season. She won the Girls’ State High School championship four straight years, starting in 1958. She also won four consecutive Iowa Girls’ Junior titles, by an average of 14.5 shots. After losing in the finals of the Women’s Western Junior in both 1958 and 1959, she won that elusive title in 1960.

Trying to replace Edith Estabrooks, 14, as the youngest Iowa Women’s Amateur champion ever, Sharon, 13, beat future major champion Judy Kimball of Sioux City in the 1956 semifinals but fell to Andy Cohn of Waterloo in the 36-hole final, 6 and 5. It was the first time Sharon played in a match longer than 18 holes.

“I’ll try harder next time,” she said.

She also finished second in 1958. That summer she pulled off a stunning victory over Ann Casey Johnstone of Mason City in the first round of the Women’s Western Amateur. Johnstone had just been named to her first of three Curtis Cup teams.

Sharon finished third at the 1959 Iowa Women’s Amateur, then won the championship three straight times starting in 1960. Her 1960 title, at Hyperion, came by eight shots. Her rounds of 73-77-71-73 included 26 one-putt greens and just one three putt. She also won the Western Junior title that summer in Waukegan, Ill., beating Judy Rand in the final, 5 and 4. And she was a runner-up at the USGA Girls’ Junior.

After winning her fourth Iowa Junior Girls’ Amateur in 1961, Sharon announced she would be attending the University of Iowa. Athletic Director Forest Evashevski assured Fladoos that she could represent the Hawkeyes at the Women’s Collegiate Championship even though the school didn’t have a women’s program.

Sharon rallied from six shots back after two rounds to defend her Iowa Women’s Amateur at the Ottumwa Country Club. She also reached the semifinals of the Women’s Western Amateur.

She won her third Iowa Women’s Amateur title by 11 shots in 1962 at Gates Park in Waterloo. That would be the last Iowa Women’s Amateur she would play in. She stepped away from competitive golf in 1964, when she was a year away from receiving her college degree with plans to become a teacher.

“I’m not planning any more competitive golf, at least until I get out of school and work for a few years,” she said. “Right now I want to play golf only for my enjoyment – and that isn’t very often. I don’t miss playing in tournaments. It’s nice to have a couple of days with nothing to do and not feel badly because I’m not practicing my golf.”

Sharon married Tom Smallwood of Fort Madison in 1966. The couple moved to Wisconsin. In 1968 Sharon entered the Wisconsin Women’s Amateur in Beloit. She lost in the 36-hole championship match, 1 up.

Career Highlights

  • 1956 U.S. Junior Girl’s Amateur Semifinalist – age 13
  • 1960 U.S. Junior Girl’s Amateur Runner-Up – 1960
  • 4-time Iowa High School Girl’s Individual & Team Champion – 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961
  • 4-time Iowa Girl’s Junior Champion – 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961
  • Twice Runner-Up, Western Girl’s Junior – 1958 & 1959
  • 1960 Western Girl’s Junior Champion
  • 3-time Iowa Women’s Amateur Champion – 1960, 1961, 1962
  • Inducted into Dubuque High School Sports Hall of Fame – 1992
  • Inducted with inaugural class, Iowa High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame – 2008
  • USGA Junior Girl’s Committee Member, 15 years
  • Women’s Trans National Golf Association, Wisconsin representative, 15 years
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