Marion Miley (February 18, 1914 – September 28, 1941) was an American amateur golfer. Active in the 1930s, she won dozens of amateur tournaments and was ranked as high as #1 in the United States. She was noted by the press as being one of the most photogenic golfers in the world and received international acclaim from her successes both nationally and abroad, bringing attention to the sport of women's golf in the era prior to the establishment of the LPGA. She was murdered in 1941 during a robbery of the country club where she and her mother lived, dying at the age of 27; her mother also died as a result of the crime.[1][2][3]

Marion Miley
Miley in 1935
Personal information
Born(1914-02-18)February 18, 1914
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedSeptember 28, 1941(1941-09-28) (aged 27)
Lexington, Kentucky
Sporting nationality United States
CollegeFlorida State College For Women
Best results in LPGA major championships
Titleholders C'shipT3: 1939, 1941

Early life edit

Miley was born in Philadelphia in 1914, the only child of Fred Miley and Elsie Ego Miley. She moved with her family to Fort Pierce, Florida, in 1921, following her father's employment as a golf pro.[4] It was in Fort Pierce that Miley first played golf, taking up the game when she was twelve years old.[3] She attended and graduated from St. Lucie County High School[5] before the family moved to Lexington, Kentucky in 1930, when Fred became the golf pro at the Lexington Country Club.[6] Elsie eventually became the club's office manager and Marion continued developing her considerable golf skills under her father's instruction. Golf was only one of Marion's passions. She was very interested in music – playing the piano since she was a child – and in medicine.[7] In numerous interviews, she expressed her long-term desire of becoming a doctor. She entered Florida State College For Women in the fall of 1930, but dropped out in 1932 after her sophomore year to focus solely on golf.[3] With the Lexington Country Club as her home club, Marion started competing in women's amateur tournaments around the United States. Later, Standard Oil hired her in a public relations capacity to inspect gas stations and visit with local officials and business leaders. She also published articles in newspapers across the country showcasing her personal viewpoint on major tournaments in which she either previewed or participated.[4]

Golfing career edit

Early championships edit

Miley saw her first major golfing success in 1931, when she won the Kentucky Women's Amateur, a title she successfully defended the following year and six times in total throughout her life.[4] Thanks to these prior victories, Miley qualified for and then participated in the U.S. Women's Amateur in 1933, though lost in the first round.[3] Starting in January 1934, Miley participated in the Orange Blossom Tour in Florida for the first time, covering a number of tournaments run throughout the state and seeing great success.[3][5] These included the Riviera Championship and the Augusta Invitational, where she won first place in both.[4] The wins she made that year and the massive newspaper attention she obtained while traveling in a group with other major golfing names, including Maureen Orcutt, Grace Amory, Betty Jameson, and Patty Berg, opened Miley up for a spot on the United States team in the Curtis Cup. Because she was named as an alternate, she did not play in the competition.[3]

More golf success edit

Miley's wins continued, resulting in her moving on to claim victory in the Mexican Amateur Championship in 1935,[8] with an audience to her triumph including Bing Crosby, Joan Bennett, and W.C. Fields. She became friends with Crosby at the time and he said he would challenge her to a friendly match in the future.[3] That same year would see her succeed in other major tournaments, such as the Women's Western Amateur and the Women's Trans-Mississippi Amateur.[3] She took another try at the U.S. Women's Amateur near the end of the year, but lost again, this time in the quarterfinals against Charlotte Glutting.[3] In 1936, Miley reached a major milestone in her career – the semifinals of the national amateur. She lost to Pamela Barton, a British player who would go on to win the tournament.[3]

Miley was selected as a member of another U.S. Curtis Cup team in 1936 played in Gleneagles, Scotland. Because of lackluster play in the spring before the competition, she was once again designated as an alternate. The U.S. team was successful and claimed victory.[3] Miley went on to play an exhibition match alongside Patty Berg and against British players Joyce Wethered and Enid Wilson, before moving to Southport, England to attend the British Ladies Amateur.[3] She ended up being the only American still in play in the tournament leading into the quarterfinals[9] and eventually lost in the semifinals against Bridget Newell, but received immense British media attention for the effort.[3] This and other Florida tournament victories in 1937, such as the Augusta Invitational,[10] resulted in Miley being officially recognized as the rank one player in the United States. Though she ended up sitting out the rest of the fall 1937 season due to undergoing an appendectomy as a "safety measure", according to her mother.[11]

In the 1938 U.S. Women's Amateur, Miley once again reached the semifinals, but lost to Patty Berg.[5] For the third consecutive U.S. Curtis Cup team, she was selected as a member and played in her first official matches for the team. With her fellow teammate Kathryn Hemphill, the two women tied in a match against Phyllis Wade and J.B. Walker. Miley also played in a singles match against Elsie Corlett and won, resulting in an overall U.S. team victory.[3][12] A new national ranking was released in 1938 and Miley was ranked second in the United States.[13]

In total, Miley played in 41 major golf tournaments from 1931 to 1940, winning 22. A reporter described her as the "most photographed golfer in the world".[5] An interview with The Courier-Journal in 1940, had her declare her goal of becoming the "best woman golfer in the world" and that she would then move on to "challenge the men".[3] The beginning of 1941 saw her end up in a tie for the finals against Jean Bauer for a newly established invitational set in the Bahamas, where she met Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. Afterwards, however, she had a flareup of tendonitis in her left thumb, which she stated was hampering her playing capabilities throughout the year. She would reach the semifinals of the Miami International Four-Ball, while also focusing on altering her swing in order to improve the well-being of her thumb, which was seemingly better by September. Miley competed in the U.S. Women's Amateur again in the beginning of September, but lost in the third round against heiress Sylvia Annenberg Leichner.[3]

Murder edit

On September 28, 1941, Miley was living in a second-floor apartment with her mother at the Lexington Country Club. A few years earlier, Fred Miley had taken a better-paying job as a golf pro at a Cincinnati club and would visit his family regularly. In a badly botched robbery, Marion was murdered at the club. Her body was discovered around five in the morning,[5] after Miley's mother, who herself had been shot three times, crawled 200 yards (180 m) to a neighbor's house in order to get help.[12] The killers had been attempting to rob the club after a dance had been held there the night before that was attended by famous socialites. The thieves had been unaware that the high cost of attendance was accepted on credit for many of the actual attendees and not with physical cash, resulting in them managing to steal only around $140.[3][5]

Miley's funeral took place on October 1, 1941, and was attended by over 1,000 people including golfers Patty Berg and Helen Dettweiler. Soon after, Bing Crosby gave $5,000 to a reward collection for the person or people that would manage to find and capture the murderers. Her death was widely covered in contemporary news publications around the world,[3][5] and the three men involved in her killing were found quickly, placed on trial on December 8, 1941, and executed on February 26, 1943.[5]

Legacy edit

The Lexington Country Club created the Marion Miley Memorial Golf Tournament in her memory. Another tournament called the Marion Miley Invitational was established in Kentucky.[14] One of the awards established for the Women's Western Amateur after 1941 was named the Marion Miley Trophy.[15] A documentary of Miley's life titled Forgotten Fame: The Marion Miley Story was released in September 2016.[4] Miley was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017.[16]

Championships edit

Year Championship Result Score Opponent Ref
1931 Kentucky Women's Amateur Win 2 and 1   Jacquiline Johnson [17]
1932 Kentucky Women's Amateur Win 12 and 10   Mrs. E.D. McCraw [18]
1932 Women's Western Amateur Loss (2nd round) 4 and 3   Lucille Robinson [19]
1933 U.S. Women's Amateur Loss (1st round) 2 up   Mrs. Ben Fitz-Hugh [20]
1933 Kentucky Women's Amateur 2nd 4 and 2   Jacquiline Johnson [21]
1934 Miami Biltmore Women's Invitational Semifinals 2 and 1   Helen Hicks [22]
1934 North and South Women's Amateur Loss (1st round) 1 up   Sara Fownes Wadsworth [23]
1934 Kentucky Women's Amateur Win 10 and 9   Elvina LeBus [24]
1934 Riviera Championship Win 2 and 1   Jean Bauer [25]
1934 U.S. Women's Amateur Loss (2nd round) 5 and 4   Charlotte Glutting [26]
1935 Augusta Invitational Win 1 up   Peggy Wattles [27]
1935 South Atlantic Women's Amateur Win 5 and 4   Jean Bauer [28]
1935 Mexican Women's Amateur Win 1 up   Mrs. Paddy Newbold [29]
1935 Women's Western Derby Win 3 up   Patty Berg [30]
1935 Kentucky Women's Amateur Win 16 and 14   Betty Myers [31]
1935 Women's Western Amateur Win 6 and 5   Mrs. Philip Atwood [32]
1935 Women's Trans-Mississippi Amateur Win 9 and 7   Patty Berg [33]
1935 U.S. Women's Amateur Quarterfinals 3 and 1   Charlotte Glutting [34]
1936 Miami Biltmore Women's Invitational 2nd 4 and 3   Patty Berg [35]
1936 Augusta Invitational Loss (1st round) 1 up   Barbara Bourne [36]
1936 U.S. Women's Amateur Semifinals 3 and 1   Pamela Barton [37]
1936 British Ladies Amateur Semifinals 4 and 3   Bridget Newell [38]
1937 Kentucky Women's Amateur Win 10 and 9   Jacquiline Johnson [39]
1937 Women's Western Amateur Win 7 and 6   Betty Jameson [40]
1937 Augusta Invitational Win 6 and 4   Babe Didrikson [10]
1938 Kentucky Women's Amateur Win 10 and 9   Jacquiline Johnson [41]
1938 Belleair Women's Open Win 2 and 1   Patty Berg [42]
1938 Women's Southern Amateur Win 1 up   Estelle Lawson [43]
1938 Women's Western Amateur Loss (2nd round) 3 and 2   Olga Strashun Weil [44]
1938 U.S. Women's Amateur Semifinals 2 up   Patty Berg [45]
1938 Women's Trans-Mississippi Amateur Quarterfinals 5 and 3   Sarah Guth [46]
1938 Aiken Round Robin Women's Invitational Loss (4th round) No score
  Patty Berg and
  Jane Cothran Jameson
1938 Mid-Florida Women's Invitational Win 2 up   Lillian Zech [48]
1938 Miami Biltmore Women's Invitational Loss (2nd round) 3 and 1   Dorothy Kirby [49]
1940 Augusta Invitational Loss (1st round) 4 and 2   Louise Suggs [50]
1940 Augusta Invitational Loss (1st round) 4 and 2   Louise Suggs [51]
1940 Belleair Women's Open Loss (1st round) 2 and 1   Bernice Wall Barbour [52]
1941 Bahamas Invitational Win Tie   Jean Bauer [53]
1941 Lakeland Women's Invitational Win 2 and 1   Mary McGarry [54]
1941 Miami Biltmore Women's Invitational Semifinals 1 up   Grace Amory [55]
1941 U.S. Women's Amateur Loss (3rd round) 1 up   Sylvia Annenberg Leichner [56]

References edit

  1. ^ "Beverly Bell: The Miley murders and swift justice — death of golf star Marion Miley was devastating blow". Northern Kentucky Tribune. January 6, 2021. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  2. ^ Bell, Beverly (2020). The murder of Marion Miley. Lexington, Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press. ISBN 978-1-949669-17-6. OCLC 1141093798.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Glenn, Rhonda (April 30, 2010). "The Tragic Death of Marion Miley". USGA.
  4. ^ a b c d e Fitzpatrick, Frank (September 23, 2016). "Golf star's life was cut short by killing". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Tuckwood, Jan (August 14, 2020). "Golf's tragic beauty: The 1941 murder of champion Marion Miley". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  6. ^ "Boston man succeeds Morris, head of club for several seasons". The Lexington Herald. April 10, 1930. p. 1 (section 2) – via
  7. ^ Bell, Beverly K. (October 1989). "A golf great cut down in her prime". Women's Sports and Fitness. Vol. 11. p. 60.
  8. ^ Clifford P (November 1953). "The Development of Mexican Golf" (PDF). USGA Journal and Turf Management: 17–19. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  9. ^ "Miss Marion Miley Is Only U.S. Survivor Among Last 8". China Press. May 21, 1936 – via ProQuest.
  10. ^ a b "Miss Miley Winner On Augusta Links". The New York Times. March 28, 1937. p. 69 – via ProQuest.
  11. ^ "To Operate on Marion Miley". The New York Times. October 18, 1937. p. 15 – via ProQuest.
  12. ^ a b "Marion Miley, Golf Star, Is Slain By Gunmen in Kentucky Clubhouse". The New York Times. September 29, 1941. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  13. ^ "Marion Miley Ranked As Second Best Woman Golfer". The Lexington Herald. April 2, 1938. Retrieved September 7, 2021 – via
  14. ^ "UK's Carlin wins Marion Miley". WKYT-TV. July 13, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  15. ^ "Jersey and Rye Golfers Head Qualifiers – Former Wins Marion Miley Trophy". The New York Times. Associated Press. August 10, 1943 – via ProQuest.
  16. ^ "Eight to be inducted into Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame". The Lane Report. March 7, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  17. ^ "Beats Mrs. JohnsonIn Finals 2 and 1". Lexington Herald-Leader. Associated Press. June 28, 1931. p. 9. Retrieved September 7, 2021 – via
  18. ^ "Marion Miley Conquers Mrs. McCraw Easily". The Lexington Herald. June 19, 1932. p. 1. Retrieved September 7, 2021 – via
  19. ^ "Mrs. Pardue Bows To Mrs. Hill in Western Tourney". The Shreveport Journal. Associated Press. August 25, 1932. p. 8. Retrieved September 7, 2021 – via
  20. ^ "National Women's Results Tuesday". The Minneapolis Tribune. August 30, 1933. p. 18. Retrieved September 4, 2021 – via
  21. ^ Rouse, Robert (June 18, 1933). "Youthful Marion Miley Is Defeated by Louisvillian In Final Round, 4 and 2". The Lexington Herald. p. 7. Retrieved September 4, 2021 – via
  22. ^ "Miss Hicks Beats Miss Miley, 2 And 1: Rallies on Incoming Nine to Triumph and Reach Miami Biltmore Final". The New York Times. February 9, 1934 – via ProQuest.
  23. ^ "Marion Miley Loses Match". The Lexington Herald. Associated Press. March 21, 1934. p. 8. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  24. ^ Leach, Brownie (June 24, 1934). "Down in Front". The Lexington Leader. p. 6. Retrieved September 5, 2021 – via
  25. ^ "Marion Miley Wins Riviera Golf Tourney". The Palm Beach Post. Associated Press. January 28, 1934. p. 12. Retrieved September 5, 2021 – via
  26. ^ "Marion Miley Defeated By Charlotte Glutting, 5-4". The Lexington Herald. Associated Press. October 3, 1934. p. 6. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  27. ^ "Miss Marion Miley Grabs Augusta Title". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Associated Press. March 30, 1935. p. 8. Retrieved September 5, 2021 – via
  28. ^ "South Atlantic Golf Title Captured by Miss Miley in Ormond Beach Tourney". The New York Times. March 3, 1935 – via ProQuest.
  29. ^ "Marion Miley Takes Crown". The Lexington Herald. November 4, 1935. Retrieved September 5, 2021 – via
  30. ^ "Marion Miley Winner in Women's Western". The Journal Times. September 13, 1935. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  31. ^ "Fourth State Title Reward". The Lexington Herald. June 16, 1935. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  32. ^ "String of Birdies Helps Miss Miley Capture Women's Western Golf Title". The New York Times. August 11, 1935 – via ProQuest.
  33. ^ "Miss Miley Halts Miss Berg, 9 and 7: Kentucky Star Wins Trans-Mississippi Championship on Omaha Links". The New York Times. June 23, 1935 – via ProQuest.
  34. ^ Portmann, Victor R. (August 29, 1935). "Marion Miley Loses To Charlotte Glutting". The Lexington Herald. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  35. ^ "Miss Berg Victor In Final, 4 And 3: Defeats Miss Miley on Miami Biltmore Links, Playing Brilliant Golf in Cold". The New York Times. February 9, 1936 – via ProQuest.
  36. ^ "Favorites Are Upset In Augusta Tourney". The Charlotte Observer. March 25, 1936. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  37. ^ Richardson, William D. (October 3, 1936). "British Champion Beats Miss Miley: Miss Barton Scores, 3 and 1, Despite Failure of Putter in U.S. Title Golf". The New York Times – via ProQuest.
  38. ^ Darwin, Bernard (May 21, 1936). "Darwin Predicts Success for Miss Barton In Third Straight Attempt to Take Title". The New York Times – via ProQuest.
  39. ^ Shropshire, Laurence (June 27, 1937). "Marion Miley Wins Fifth Kentucky Crown". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  40. ^ "Miss Miley Victor In Western Tourney". The New York Times. August 29, 1937 – via ProQuest.
  41. ^ "Marion Miley Defeats Mrs. Willard Johnson, 10 and 9, To Capture Her Sixth State Golf Crown". Lexington Herald-Leader. June 19, 1938. Retrieved September 7, 2021 – via
  42. ^ "Miss Miley Takes Final; Beats Miss Berg, 2 and 1, in Belleair Golf Tourney". The New York Times. March 12, 1938. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  43. ^ "Marion Miley Wins Southern Golf Crown". The Miami News. May 15, 1938. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  44. ^ "Miss Miley Eliminated: Mrs. Weil Upsets Champion in Western Golf". The New York Times. August 25, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  45. ^ "Berg-Page Final In Women's Golf". The Morning News. September 24, 1938. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  46. ^ "Miss Miley Defeated In Trans-Mississippi". Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. June 9, 1938. Retrieved September 7, 2021 – via
  47. ^ "Marion Miley Out Of Aiken Tourney". The Orlando Sentinel. March 18, 1938. Retrieved September 7, 2021 – via
  48. ^ "Marion Miley Seizes Title". The Greenville News. February 20, 1938. Retrieved September 7, 2021 – via
  49. ^ "Dorothy Kirby Upsets Marion Miley, 3-1". The Miami News. February 2, 1938. Retrieved September 7, 2021 – via
  50. ^ "Miss Suggs, 16, Halts Miss Miley In Augusta Golf Upset, 4 and 2". The New York Times. March 20, 1940 – via ProQuest.
  51. ^ "Miss Suggs, 16, Halts Miss Miley In Augusta Golf Upset, 4 and 2". The New York Times. March 20, 1940 – via ProQuest.
  52. ^ "Miss Copic Upsets Miss Miley, 2 and 1: Toledo Golfer Triumphs in the Opening Round of Match Play at Belleair". The New York Times. March 13, 1940 – via ProQuest.
  53. ^ "Miss Miley In Golf Tie: Cards 232 to Deadlock Miss Bauer in Tourney at Nassau". The New York Times. February 22, 1941 – via ProQuest.
  54. ^ "Marion Miley Annexes Lakeland Tournament". Pensacola News Journal. March 8, 1941. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  55. ^ Hughes, Bob (January 31, 1941). "Miley and Cothran Fall In Semifinals". The Miami Herald. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  56. ^ King, Bill. "Quaker City Player In Quarter-Finals Of Women's Classic". Harrisburg Telegraph. Retrieved September 1, 2021 – via

External links edit