The Royal Perth women's pennant team that won 15 titles in 16 years from 1966 to 1981, is still producing outstanding results in Australian golf.
One crucial member was five time RPGC club champion Judy Francis, who until today, was the only Western Australian to win the Australian Women’s Senior Championship.
27 years on, a much younger member of that team has matched Francis’ achievement, with Sharon Dawson winning today’s final 2&1 against NSW’s Kim Burke at Gosnells Golf Club.
While Francis remains a Royal Perth member to this day, Dawson switched to Lake Karrinyup Country Club in her twenties. Dawson recalled being as young as 12 when she started playing with Francis at the club.
“Judy and I used to play a lot of golf when I was just starting out,” said Dawson.
“I remember our families being close, and we played each other in the club championships along the way, as well as the same pennant team.”
2015 was Dawson’s first appearance at the seniors, having just reached the qualifying age. The Lake Karrinyup member faced a similar debutant in Burke, and the pair were neck and neck until Dawson won the 17th with a par.
After qualifying ninth, Dawson admitted that she prefers matchplay, and it showed after defeating champions in Josie Ryan and Jacqui Morgan on the way to the final.
While Burke and Morgan both lost at the hands of the eventual winner, they played a part of the winning NSW state team alongside Nikki Haines, which dominated the interstate competition with a 21 stroke victory over runner-ups Western Australia.
It was a successful tournament for NSW despite missing out on the championship. Morgan won the strokeplay medal and secured first place in the national rankings for 2015, while Haines finished the season third in the rankings.
For Dawson, this is her biggest win from almost 45 years of playing golf, having lost the only major championship final she contested in 1982 at the WA Amateur.
“I’ve been runner up in lots of events, so to actually win is awesome,” said Dawson.
“I remember the WA Amateur final was 32 years ago, as my son is 32. He was four months old at the time and I had to breast feed him in the bathroom in between the morning and afternoon rounds!”
With her family all grown up, Dawson says the senior’s circuit is crucial to staying motivated so she can remain at the top of her game.
“Becoming a senior has revitalised me a bit, and I’ve got a lot more to play for now,” said Dawson.
“It gives you a reason to keep taking your golf seriously, and it adds more competition to local events which would otherwise feel exclusively for high performance golfers.”
The afternoon was a moment of celebration for the 40-strong WA contingent at Gosnells, who relished the end of a long drought for the state.
Every WA representative competed for the week dressed in black and gold, and Dawson said she loved the atmosphere they created.
“Everyone has been great and very supporting,” said Dawson.
“I played in some great matches all week and we all had a lovely time out there. There’s a few ladies out there who I think, wow, who are 86 and still looking fabulous, it’s an inspiration to anyone, so hopefully I’ll can keep turning up."
With her win, Dawson has earned an Australian team selection for the New Zealand Senior in February, an interesting turn of events for someone who used to sit on the Australian selection panel and manage the Queen Sirikit Cup team.
“I’ve gone from being a selector to being selected!” joked Dawson.
“I can’t have a Christmas holiday now. I don’t normally play golf in summer but I guess I’ll have to keep going.”