The diminutive Sandra Palmer was born on March 10, 1943 in Fort Worth and grew up as one of a host of fine female golfers who called that city's River Crest Country Club home. As a youngster, Sandra was tutored by the late professional A.G. Mitchell. Other professionals who influenced her career in a later time were Harvey Penick, Ernie Vossler, and Johnny Revolta.
As an amateur, Sandra won the West Texas championship four times and the Women's Texas Amateur title in 1963.
Prior to that, while as student at North Texas State, Palmer was runner-up in the 1961 National Collegiate Championship. After turning pro in 1964, Palmer struggled through seven lean years. From then on, however, she won no less than two events per season for the next seven years.
In all, she amassed 19 wins on the LPGA tour in her career, including two majors titles: the 1975 U.S. Women's Open and the 1972 Titleholders Championship. She topped the money list for 1975 and was awarded the LPGA Player of the Year title.
She became the LPGA Tour’s 13th millionaire in 1986 and was inducted into the National Collegiate Hall of Fame in 1988.
Palmer in 1977 was voted North Texas State’s Alumnus of the Year. The former North Texas State cheerleader continued playing on the LPGA Tour until 1997. She competed in the 1989 Marilynn Smith Founders Classic, the first senior event for women professionals.
- 19 LPGA Tour Wins
- Two Majors - 1975 U.S. Women's Open and 1972 Titleholders Championship
- 1975 LPGA Player of the Year
- 1988 Inducted into National Collegiate Hall of Fame
- 2023 Inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame
Tiny Golfer among Giants
Sandra was born in Fort Worth but moved to Bangor, Maine, where she learned to play golf while serving as a personal caddie on a 9-hole course.
She returned to Fort Worth as an early teen, and she became good friends with future LPGA Tour star and Texas Golf Hall of Famer Sandra Haynie.
Largely self-taught until her 20s, the 5-foot-2 Sandra lived near the third hole at Glen Garden Golf and Country Club. A plaque located outside the fabled club at which she played read “Home of Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Sandra Palmer.”
Gimme a Tee
Sandra attended North Texas State (now the University of North Texas) at a time before women’s golf became an NCAA-sanctioned sport. Instead of playing golf for her school, Sandra was a sorority member, cheerleader, and the school’s Homecoming Queen.
She continued to play golf on her own and competed in the 1961 National Collegiate Championship in Albuquerque, N.M., where she finished as the runner-up.
Her popularity at North Texas State continued well after her days as a co-ed. She was named the university’s Alumnus of the Year in 1977 and voted into the North Texas Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994.
From Teacher to the Tour
Immediately after graduating college, Sandra put her degree to use. She taught high school in Arlington, Texas, for one year.
However, she decided to turn from the classroom to the golf course in 1964 to pursue her dream of playing professional golf. It took seven years to truly find her footing on tour, but once she did, she didn’t slow down.
Sandra won at least two events per year over a seven-year span from (1971-77). In all, Sandra collected 19 LPGA Tour victories, including a pair of majors, the 1972 Titleholders Championship and 1975 U.S. Women's Open.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Sandra, who worked under the tutelage of fellow Texas Golf Hall of Famer Harvey Penick, became the LPGA’s 13th-ever millionaire in 1986. She finished No. 1 on the money list in 1975 and garnered the LPGA Player of the Year title.
In 2000, she was recognized during the LPGA’s 50th Anniversary as one of the LPGA’s top 50 players and teachers.
Her pro career followed her amateur success, which included winning the West Texas Amateur Championship four times and the 1963 Women's Texas Amateur.
Making a Name for Herself
Often asked if she is related to “The King,” Arnold Palmer (she’s not), the former college Homecoming Queen stamped her own name into golf lore when she earned membership in the World Golf Hall of Fame as part of the 2024 class.
Remarkably, despite playing before NCAA Women’s Golf was recognized, Sandra earned the Women’s Golf Coaches Association's most prestigious honor: induction into the WGCA Coaches and Players Hall of Fame.
A founding member of the Legends Tour, formerly known as the Women’s Senior Golf Tour, she also became one of golf’s most highly respected instructors.
Legends Hall of Fame
Recapping Sandra Palmer's career with this video sums it up!
Keepsake: She earned it
Three World Golf Hall of Fame members finished runner-up to Sandra at the 1975 U.S. Women's Open.
Palmer's 1975 U.S. Women's Open Medal
Golf World article 1975
Sandra Haynie - Lucille Grizzelle & Sandra Palmer
Palmer's personality shining through
Palmer on the cover of 1975 Golf Journal
Palmer on the cover of 1971 Golf World
On the course
From the fairway
Young Palmer from the bunker
Palmer on the cover of 2002 Tee Time Magazine
Palmer on the cover of 1975 Golf World
Palmer's U.S. Women's Open Medal 1975 (back side)
Palmer on the green
Palmer on the cover of 1977 Golf World
Sandra Haynie - Sandra Palmer & Betty Carmack