One of the greatest female athletes in American sports lore had one of her most triumphant victories here on the North Shore, yet little has ever been written about it.
Gary Larrabee wanted to know why.
More accurately, he was intent on doing something about it.
Now, you can read all about Babe Zaharias and her dominant victory at the 1954 U.S. Women’s Open, held at Salem Country Club, in Larrabee’s new book, ‘Sensation at Salem.’
“It had always been in the recesses of my brain since I was aware of the fact she made golf history here on the North Shore,” said Larrabee, who worked at The Salem News from 1971-95 and now writes tomes on local histories. “But any time I’d come across something said or written about Babe, it would only give her win at Salem a glossing over. It got the short shrift everywhere, even her autobiography.
“In effect, it was her greatest moment in golf ... and certainly in North Shore golfing history.”
Larrabee, the North Shore’s foremost authority on all things golf, knew a litany of information about Zaharias going into the project — her upbringing in Beaumont, Texas; how she won two gold medals and a silver in track and field at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles; her athletic prowess in other fields such as basketball and softball; and her rise to fame as a golfer, which she started playing in 1935 and quickly became the face of women’s golf; and as one of the founding members of the Ladies Pro Golf Association. He was even aware that she had played on the North Shore previously, doing exhibitions some two decades earlier at both the United Shoe (now Beverly Golf & Tennis Club) and Happy Valley in Lynn (now Gannon Golf Club).