In the early 1970s, few female golfers could match the accomplishments of Oregon State University’s Mary Budke. From being the U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion in 1972 to a year in 1974 that included the individual collegiate national championship and a record winning Curtis Cup U.S.A. team, Budke was a key figure in golf. female.
And she never wanted to turn professional.
“I’m so glad I’m not trying to play golf for a living,” said Budke, retired more than a decade ago from a career as an ER doctor and now a resident of Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. “I thought I was good enough to be a mediocre Tour player. And I was never a very good putter.”
Budke may never have made a mark in the professional game, but her accomplishments as an amateur at Oregon State have earned her another in a long line of golf honors over the past five decades. Budke was inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor, which since 2002 has honored excellence in conference school athletes, as well as sports coaches and administrators.
“Very surprised,” Budke said of the news of her induction. “Frankly, I really didn’t know it existed. So I was surprised, but I was also surprised that the state of Oregon selected me to participate.”
Each of the 12 conference schools selects one person for induction, but this year all 12 are women celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX.
“Budke laid the foundation for the Oregon State women’s golf program,” the university said in announcing Budke’s induction. “As she said, there were no more than four players on the team during her college career, practice was not organized; was in the individual. Budke also played volleyball and basketball during her time at Oregon State, but golf is where she thrived.”
A career full of honors
Budke’s career spans beyond her USGA championship or her 1974 title win in the Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which ran women’s college sports before the NCAA took over later in the 1990s. 1970. A state high school singles champion, Budke also won three straight Oregon junior girls’ championships and advanced to the semifinals at the 1970 and 1971 US Junior Girls Championships.
She was an eight-time Oregon amateur champion and won the Bill Hayward Award as Oregon’s top amateur athlete in 1972. She is in the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and the Oregon Golf Hall of Fame, the Oregon Golf Hall of Fame. of players from the National Association of Golf Coaches and the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame. But Budke’s attraction was to premedical studies, not professional golf. Budke enjoys playing with top amateurs like Laura Baugh, Jane Bastentury Booth and JoAnne Gunderson, a five-time US Amateur winner better known as a professional named JoAnne Carner.
“When I was really into golf, all my goals were amateur golf, really, and some of the best players were amateurs then,” Budke said. “Certainly not true now, the women’s tour is so good now. But back then I felt like the top 10 amateurs could really take on the top 10 pros.”
Budke eventually became a physician, working at USC Los Angeles County Medical Center in the 1980s, then Granada Hills in the 1990s before returning to Oregon to work in Eugene for 15 years.
Dr. Mary Budke during her playing days at Oregon State University. Budke represented that university in the Pac-12 Hall of Honor in Las Vegas.
During his days as a doctor, with a focus on medicine and not golf, Budke somehow lost what had been a championship game.
“I thought, well, no problem, I can pick it up,” he said. “Well, it was a problem.”
He even shot a score of 39-59 in the Oregon Amateur tournament that he had dominated in the past.
“It was bad for a while. It was very bad, ”she admits.
But being named captain of the 2002 Curtis Cup, the international competition she had played in 28 years earlier, sparked Budke’s love for the game.
“Being the captain and seeing all these college players, apart from Carol Semple, who was a contemporary of me and who was on my team, I wanted to start learning again. Anytime you’re learning, that’s what keeps you going. I have really loved learning about golf again.”
Budke’s game came back so strong that she has continued to play competitively, even playing at the US Senior Women’s Amateur in Anchorage, Alaska this past July. She reached the match group of 64 players.
“Then I ran into three-time defending champion Laura Tennant,” laughed Budke, who lost that first round match 4 and 2.
After years of coming to the desert for spring break to see his snowbird parents and visiting the desert more often as he prepared to retire from medicine, Budke moved to the desert after that retirement in 2011, he met her current partner and lived in Palm Springs until she moved away. within the gates of Mission Hills two years ago. At 69, Budke says he’s shot three times at his age and hopes to continue playing competitively.
“I hit the ball pretty good,” he said. “It was fun to learn. That is also true with medicine.”
The story originally appeared on GolfWeek