Written by Staff Writer
Barefoot Golf – An Ode to Sandra Gene Smith, The Little Girl who Thrived Thoroughly Photography by James P. Camerlengo, Nautilus
Since hitting the PGA Tour as an amateur in 1965, playing in the 1966 U.S. Women’s Open and starring in her iconic Spalding commercials, Sandra “Tiger” Gene Smith is an obvious name for the 19-time LPGA Tour veteran who’s spent her career gaining altitude as an all-time great on the course and as a trailblazer for women in the sport.
But does her story have the grandeur of Kobe Bryant’s documentary Wigwam and the epicism of All-Time Fandemonium?
Smith, who plays in the past two U.S. Women’s Open championships, has never won a major tournament in her glittering life, despite incredible odds (almost everyone else on tour has done better).
Here’s a legend on the course who struggled to gain traction on the Tour — against the greatest players of the era (and Smith didn’t invent women’s golf at all — the pioneering Arnold Palmer pioneered the game in 1955) — and overcome the odds to make a major contribution to the world of golf.
In little more than three decades, she went from an amateur to a respected tour player, so much so that she was considered so good that when she played golf on her own, a competing player called the police in fear of her safety.
She was instrumental in changing the rules of golf for women, the very game she played. Smith has been called the “greatest all-sport athlete” of all time, and her inspirational accomplishments in the game are matched only by her remarkable, multifaceted life — an absolutely incredible testament to the human spirit.