Colleen (Smith) McCulloch
Colleen McCulloch can definitely be described as an all-round athlete. Her dressmaker mother raised Colleen, the youngest of three children, during the Great Depression and World War 11. Colleen discovered sports as “something to overcome my boredom”. As a student at Lord Tennyson Elementary and during her high school days at Kitsilano High School, she loved all sports. During her athletic career from age sixteen to twenty-five, she excelled in five sports. In grass hockey, she won five championships. In basketball, she played for the Kitsilano Hedlunds, winning provincial and national titles in 1946-47. In curling, she copped five club titles and numerous bonspiel championships. On the softball diamond with the Pacifics and Nuthouse teams, she gained international recognition when the Grand Rapids Chicks baseball team invited her to join their team. “They had scouts, y’know, I had been asked to play on an all-star team when I was 18, but my mother, she was pretty strict, she didn’t want me to go. I was underage, so of course I didn’t go.” But the following year she joined the Grand Rapid Chicks for one year. In 1998, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame recognized her contributions to the sport.
When asked about her transition to golf, Colleen commented, “I just got too old for all the other sports”. She was thirty-one at the time. When Colleen Smith exchanged her baseball cleats for golf spikes, her natural athletic ability definitely made the transition easier for her. She first appeared in the results for the 1952 Vancouver & District Ladies’ Golf Championships, playing as a member of the Quilchena GC. Because of her job as an accountant in a local firm, she found it difficult to travel outside Vancouver for championships. In 1956, she decided to travel to Victoria for the provincial championship at Gorge Vale GC because “she had friends to stay with in Victoria.” After just five years playing the game, she won her only BC Ladies’ Championship. Colleen described her BC win as follows: ” I considered this win one of the highlights of my athletic career because it was my first non-team sport win.” Over the next 30 years, as a member of the Point Grey G&CC, Colleen managed to successfully integrate her business career with her golf career. The head professional at Point Grey G&CC Leroy Goldsworthy described Colleen’s golfing ability as follows: “She definitely drives the golf ball longer than her peers in the City. If she had the time to devote to her short game she would consistently be one of the best woman golfers in the country.”
Probably one of her most successful outings came at the 1961 Canadian Women’s Open on her home course, Point Grey G&CC She served notice she would be a factor in the national championship by winning the medal in the qualifying round. She also assisted the BC team to win the provincial team title. At the 1962 Canadian Ladies’ Amateur Championship at Southwood GC in Winnipeg, she reached the semi-finals losing to five-time Alberta Ladies’ Amateur Champion Rae Milligan.
When she turned fifty, she replaced Margaret Todd as the dominating BC senior woman golfer in BC. From 1975 thru 1985, she captured five BC Senior titles. In 1975, she began her senior career with a bang by placing second in the Canadian Senior Women’s Championship at the Beach Grove GC in Tsawwassen, BC. In 1977 before retiring from competitive golf in 1995, Colleen accumulated an impressive collection of awards and trophies. She represented British Columbia on fourteen provincial teams – more than any other BC woman golfer.
After her retirement from the business world, Colleen turned to golf administration in the Canadian Ladies’ Golf Association, BC Branch office. She served as a Director on the BC Golf House Society for a decade in the 1990s. At her induction ceremony into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 she commented about women in sport as follows: “I have a feeling women are always going to be on the backseat a little bit. I don’t think I could play in all the sports I did in today’s world. You pretty much have to specialize. I am impressed by the days of the Grand Rapid Chicks baseball team. Now there are professional circuits for soccer, basketball, and golf.”
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