Shelley Hamlin, who was a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour after a brilliant amateur career in California, has died at the age of 69 in Phoenix, Ariz., after a long battle with breast cancer.
Hamlin, who was born in San Mateo, captured the California Women’s Amateur Championship four straight years from 1967-1970 at Pebble Beach Golf Links https://www.pebblebeach.com/. Then she went on to Stanford and won the 1971 AIAW National Collegiate Championship.
In addition, she lost to Catherine Lacoste at the final of the 1969 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship.
In addition, Hamlin was a member of two winning U.S. Curtis Cup teams (1968, 1970) and two winning U.S. Women’s World Amateur teams (1966, 1968).
“She was just a fighter,” said retired LPGA member Allison Finney, who also played college golf at Stanford and followed Hamlin to the LPGA and Legends tours. “Shelley will be missed, for sure.”
On the LPGA Tour, Hamlin won titles in the 1978 Patty Berg Classic, the 1992 Phar-Mor at Inverrary and the 1993 ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Her victory in 1992 came seven months following a modified radical mastectomy.
“Total fright,” Hamlin recalled of her reaction when she first was diagnosed with cancer. “I was devastated. All my life, I’d always been so lucky. I thought my luck just ran out … now I’m going to die. I found a lump in 1990. My doctor said everything was fine and to come back in six months.”
But it wasn’t fine.
The lump grew and more tests were taken. Cancer was discovered.
“I am a professional at golf, but nobody is a pro at cancer until she has it,” Hamlin said. “I tried to read and learn all I could about it. At first, I felt the end was there. With help, I felt I could start to breathe again.
“They used to have radical mastectomies and say no golf. But that isn’t the case most of the time today. I tell the women to ask their doctors. I encourage them to play golf again. I’m a fatalist. It’s like my flying in a plane. Unless I’m at the wheel, I have no control over the situation. So, I don’t worry about it.”
In 1992, Hamlin was awarded William and Mousie Powell Award-winner for behavior and deeds that best exemplify the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA. She also earned the 1995 Heather Farr Award.
Farr, another LPGA Tour member, died of breast cancer in 1993.
Hamlin also earned the 1992 Bounce Back Player of the Year and the 2000 Dr. DeDe Owens Spirit of Golf Award, which recognizes someone who has overcome adversity and gone on to contribute to the growth and development of golf worldwide.
Hamlin joined the Legends Tour, for women aged 45 and older, and won the 2002 Fidelity Investments Classic and the Legends Honors Division in the 2017 Walgreens Charity Classic.
Last Thursday, Hamlin she was enshrined in the Legends Hall of Fame.