Pictured above: Catherine Lacoste (centre) with her daughter Veronique Smondack (right) and Jade Schaeffer (left) at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France welcome reception at Château d’Arcangues.
Catherine Lacoste wrote women’s golfing history on 2nd July 1967 when, as a 22-year-old, the young Frenchwoman captured the US Women’s Open at Homestead Resort in Virginia.
The daughter of Simone Thion de la Chaume, one of the most successful golfers between the two World Wars and René Lacoste, the tennis player who won seven individual Grand Slam titles, Catherine became a famous champion in her own right when she became the youngest to win the US Women’s Open, on her father’s birthday.
“It’s a nice birthday present for Dad,” Catherine told a local newspaper at the time. Now, 50 years later, she remains the only amateur to have won this prestigious Major title, to which she added numerous others, including the 1969 British Ladies Amateur Championship, before starting a family.
A pioneer for French golf, Catherine, who was dubbed the ‘crocodile kid’ by the American media, shone in the United States at a time when transatlantic crossings were mainly by boat. “She was certainly a model for all players of her generation,” said the current French number one, Karine Icher.
Catherine grew up playing at Golf de Chantaco, the family course in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, where her parents, the founders of the Lacoste brand, played and often welcomed the rich and famous. Created in 1928, the short and technical course is surrounded by trees with several water hazards and evokes the spirit of its age and of its British creator, Harry Colt.
This week, for the sixth consecutive year, Golf de Chantaco welcomes the Ladies European Tour for the 27th Lacoste Ladies Open de France. The 78 players in the field are looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1967 US Women’s Open with Catherine and her family as they play their own part in the storied history of women’s golf in France.
Above: Catherine (centre) with the LET players in the Château d’Arcangues.