BARB (THOMAS) WHITEHEAD

Sibley | Inducted 2011 | Category: Amateur/ Professional Golfer

Barb Thomas Whitehead learned to play golf at the Sibley Golf and Country Club, a nine-hole course with one bunker. As fate would have it, she qualified for the LPGA Tour by holing a shot from a bunker.

She can remember being 13 or 14 years old when she saw television coverage of the Dinah Shore tournament and thinking, “That’s what I want to do. That inspired me.”

Barb went on to win four Lakes Conference titles, two state high school titles, two Girls’ State Junior titles and three Iowa Women’s Amateur titles. Her second prep title came by 15 shots. Her second state junior title came by 19 shots. Her final state amateur came by 14 shots.

“Iowa had such a solid junior program for girls,” Barb recalled. “It produced a lot of good players from Iowa. They also had that four-state event (Junior Girls’ 4-State) with Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas. I played against some girls I played on tour with. It broadened my horizons beyond the boundaries of Iowa. People like Corkey Nydle, Linda Frisch and Kate Nelson, gosh, they were awesome.”

Barb holed a 5-footer on the Ottumwa Country Club’s 18th green to win her first Iowa Women’s Amateur title in 1979. She won by seven shots in 1981 at the Burlington Golf Club. That 14-shot win came at Sunnyside Country Club in Waterloo in 1982.

She started her college career at Iowa State, earning all-American status at the AIAW National Championship as a freshman in 1980. She transferred to Tulsa, and helped her team win the 1982 NCAA title by tying for third individually.

“I knew that when I went to Iowa State it was not going to be for four years,” she said. “I wanted to head south and get to a better golf program, with better competition and with teammates pushing me.”

Barb earned her LPGA Tour card in the fall of 1983 in Sweetwater, Texas. It looked like she’d get her card without drama until she made a double bogey at the 16th hole and a bogey on the 17th hole of the last round. She knew she probably had to birdie the par-4 18th hole to qualify. Her second shot, a 3-wood, ended up in a greenside bunker.

“So I get in the bunker and I’m thinking, ‘I’ve probably got to hole this thing,’ ” Barb said. “I had to cut it out of there because it was a pretty tight pin. I remember it landed just short and left of the pin. And I remember seeing it go in the hole. I threw up my hands and said, “Praise the Lord.”

Career Highlights

Amateur

  • Iowa Junior Girls’ Champion in 1978 & 1979
  • First team All-American at Iowa State in 1980
  • 3-time Iowa Women’s Amateur Champion: ’79,’81,’82

Pro

  • Earned LPGA Tour Card in the Fall of 1983
  • Ladies Hawaiian Open Champion, 1995
  • Represented the LPGA Tour in the Nichirei International Tournament vs. Japan in 1995 & 1996
  • Vice President of the LPGA Tour in 1999-2000
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