12 October 1951
Sally Little, South African golfer recognized by the LPGA as one of its top-50 all-time players and teachers, was born in Cape Town on 12 October 1951. By the age of 17, Sally Little had claimed more than a dozen national and regional amateur titles, and in 1970 was named South African Sportsman of the Year. In 1971 she was moved to the United States and was invited to the join the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Her early days on the tour saw promise, but no victories. In a 1981 New York Times interview, Little later reflected that a weight problem had seriously endangered her professional career. ''I was just plain fat," she said, "but I never realized it until I went home to South Africa where my mother took one look at me and nearly had a heart attack.'' With encouragement from friends on the LPGA tour, and time spent at a Cape Town health spa, Little conquered her love of junk food and within two years had lost nearly 40 pounds. Little's first tour victory was in 1976 at the Women's International at Moss Creek, where she made one of the most famous shots in LPGA history. In the final hole of the tournament, Sally holed a 40-yard bunker shot to edge out Jan Stephenson by one stroke. Sally went on to win 15 professional titles in all, 12 between 1979 and 1982, including her first major title, the LPGA Championship, in 1980. For the next ten years, she was consistently ranked among the top five women golfers in the world. She won 2 Majors, the last being The Canadian Open in 1988. Little was at the top of her career at a time when South Africa's apartheid regime was facing international sanctions. In order to keep playing overseas, she, like many world-class athletes from South Africa, renounced her South African citizenship. She became a US citizen in 1982. She retired from professional golf in 2004. Today she runs her own business, Sally Little Golf, Inc. She is also a senior design consultant for a golf course construction company, Ready For Golf.