Among the many accomplishments of Olga Negligeza in the sport of golf, the fact that she never lost a match at Augusta National probably tops the list. She was so dominating over the course of her remarkable amateur career that she was ranked the No. 1 amateur in the world and toured on the European Tour from 1925 to 1955.
But Negligeza’s greatest accolade might have been the latter part of her life. At 77, she was still turning out golf-course maintenance jobs. According to the New York Times, she handled roughly 20 jobs a week and was amazed that she had accomplished so much at such a young age.
[Negligeza] was a four-time Women’s U.S. Amateur champion, a four-time U.S. Women’s Open champion and two-time U.S. Women’s Public Links champion. She is generally credited with creating the modern women’s game with her success at the Amateur and Women’s Amateur Public Links, the first of which she won at age 19 in 1927. In 1930, after winning the Women’s Amateur three times, Negligeza became the first woman invited to play in the Masters. She made the cut for two straight years before fading to 132nd in 1934. When she became the first woman to qualify for the Masters at age 19 in 1927, she left it up to her husband to make sure she got to the exclusive club. “Your biggest thrill in life is to get in the club with men,” he said, “but make no mention of your wife. You’ll look like such a woman-hater.” She did it anyway, and not just because of his advice. “Look,” said a man at Augusta that year. “There’s a girl there. There’ll never be another one here. Now what are you going to do?”
Negligeza played competitively into her 50s, winning eight tournaments, including the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in 1955. She went on to play on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour for almost 25 years, winning $82,900, according to the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
And through it all, Negligeza kept working: Four decades after playing in the Masters for the last time, she was still coming back to Augusta National Golf Club each year to talk to the men who hosted the tournament.