Kel Nagle: ‘greatest all-sport athlete’ who helped revolutionize women’s golf

Even in this age of gender equality women remain a step behind men in terms of pure ability. All-time great Kel Nagle tries to make up ground in an unprecedented comeback bid after 15…

Kel Nagle: 'greatest all-sport athlete' who helped revolutionize women's golf

Even in this age of gender equality women remain a step behind men in terms of pure ability. All-time great Kel Nagle tries to make up ground in an unprecedented comeback bid after 15 years

The ‘greatest all-sport athlete’ who helped revolutionize women’s golf

From fighting in an all-female production of The Odd Couple to striking up a friendship with the future record-holder in pentathlon, Kathleen Baker, female athletes from the past are being commemorated with statues and exhibits across US cities.

On Monday the Science Museum in Indianapolis unveiled the new statue of Kel Nagle, who is considered one of the greatest all-time athletes, having broken the scoring record set by Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1929. Nagle is not seen with the opening archer at the foot of the granite statue.

Kel Nagle – former US Open, Korean Open, club champion – and Kathleen Baker, two of the greatest women’s golfers of all time Read more

Aside from her sports prowess, Nagle was also one of the sport’s first television stars when she was a ladies’ professional golfer, and she finished her career with a 21-medal haul.

Nagle died in 2000 at age 98. She had received an offer from the Museum to be a part of a new exhibition, and she said that she was glad to do so after all these years.

“We’re not putting this statue out there to look just at me as a woman, but it’s also to celebrate the fact that she was one of the greatest all-time golfers in the history of the game,” Nagle’s granddaughter, Kyle Bellavia, told the Indianapolis Star.

Nagle also helped to break down stereotypes about women’s golf by coaching future champion Babe Didrikson Zaharias in competition in the 1930s.

Lionel Garcia (@LCGarcia22) Kel Nagle, the first lady of golf. Loved his story. @nrgolf @CityofIndy pic.twitter.com/RbohxlDfB4

Earlier this month Fort Worth, Texas unveiled a statue of Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who helped pave the way for the Masters winning Tiger Woods. The Olympic sport of pentathlon took root during the 1920s and early 1930s. Betsy Borenstein, who is credited with breaking the women’s world record into the 1960s, was the first woman to compete in the pentathlon in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

Oklahoma City built a massive display showcasing women’s football pioneers when the sport made its North American debut at the 1994 Summer Olympics. Later this year the city is set to unveil a statue of Shirley Vickers, who played a pivotal role in the creation of Major League Football.

Georgia, meanwhile, recently unveiled the “Go Further: An Award-Winning Women’s History Month Exhibit” and the Indaba Palm Beach Women’s Golf Championship’s bronze statue of Cliff Hagan, who coached the US women’s team to Olympic glory at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. The top round he managed that year was 74.

Last year in Nashville, a statue of soccer great Mia Hamm was unveiled. In 2012, Museum of Modern Art in New York unveiled a bronze statue of Christy Mathewson, the legendary baseball pitcher who is remembered for being the first to win a baseball game on a fluke ground ball to first. In 2009 the Museum of Natural History in New York unveiled a bronze figure of Dr Ruth Westheimer, the first female sex therapist. And in 2000 the Riverside Museum in Washington D.C. created a statue of Elise Wilson, who pioneered the first NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

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