Romack was accomplished golfer, Sports Illustrated trailblazer

Sacramento’s Barbara Romack plays a shot out of a sand trap during the 1954 U.S. Women’s Amateur tournament in Pittsburgh. Romack won the event.
Sacramento’s Barbara Romack plays a shot out of a sand trap during the 1954 U.S. Women’s Amateur tournament in Pittsburgh. Romack won the event. The Associated Press

Barbara Romack, one of the best golfers of her generation, has died at age 83 in Florida.

Born and raised in Sacramento and a graduate of McClatchy High School, Romack won the 1954 U.S. Women’s Amateur, beating future LPGA Tour star Mickey Wright 4 and 2 in the final.

Romack became the first female golfer on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1956 ahead of the Curtis Cup matches between the United States and Great Britain/Ireland. She remains the only female amateur golfer on a Sports Illustrated cover.

I got hooked because I couldn’t do it.

Barbara Romack, on how she starting playing golf

The SI story called the 5-foot-4 Romack a “little tiger” for her ability to smack 220-yard drives despite her diminutive stature. Haggin Oaks has a copy of the April 16, 1956, magazine in its Super Shop antique department.

Romack also won the 1952 North and South Amateur and the 1953 Canadian Amateur. She won the California State Amateur four times. In 1955, she finished second in the British Ladies Amateur. She won twice during a 20-year LPGA Tour career.

Romack participated in numerous outdoor activities growing up in Sacramento, according to the United States Golf Association, but exhibited no particular skill at golf. She often caddied for her father, Aubrey, and later borrowed his clubs for a round in which she lost every ball in her bag.

“I got hooked because I couldn’t do it,” she told the USGA in 2002.

Romack was inducted into the Sacramento Golf Hall of Fame in 2013.

All systems go at Lockeford Springs

The rumor that Lockeford Springs may be closing?

Couldn’t be further from the truth, general manager Gary Reiff said.

“The grapevine is broken,” he said. “Not even close.”

Reiff said a new series of advertisements across multimedia platforms has just been released highlighting improvements to the Lockeford Springs bar and microbrew offerings, myriad fun tournament formats and the addition of a disc golf course.

“Our goal is to make golf fun again,” Reiff said. “To entice people to play our course.”

The operators of the 23-year-old course with the Lodi address have always liked to mix things up. They’ve used a roll of the dice to determine green fees. They’ve accepted other courses’ ads.

For 2017, Reiff said he’s noodling with an all-inclusive day rate for golf, food and beverage. There will be a GOD (Golfer of the Day) every day, selected randomly, who will receive a $10 voucher good everywhere. The annual green fee plan will cost $950 in 2017, down from $1,200 this year. Bring in a new annual pass holder and both players get a $200 reduction.

“We’re looking for new blood,” Reiff said. “We have an aggressive plan for next year.”

Have a marketing idea of your own? Reiff is all ears, especially if it involves bringing a group.

“I don’t want one guy here,” he said. “I want four.”

The grapevine is broken. Not even close.

Gary Reiff, general manager at Lockeford Springs, on rumors the course might be closing

Reiff said he has 15 144-player tournaments booked for 2017 for Lockeford Springs.

Looks like a business that expects to be around.

One stage at a time

Players with local ties making it though the first stage of Tour qualifying: Tyler Raber, Jake Johnson, Ben Geyer, Jonathan De Los Reyes, Kevin Lucas and Austin Smotherman.

The second stage begins Nov. 1 at five sites across the country. The final stage begins Dec. 8.

Steve Pajak: 916-326-5526.