Leukemia ended her competitive golf career prematurely and took Sally Sessions in 1966 at the age of 43, but not before she was one of the original founding members of the LPGA Tour.
The Muskegon native was a standout tennis player, who also played basketball and softball before taking up golf seriously at age 16. She tied for second playing as an amateur in the 1947 U.S. Women’s Open Championship, which was the second of the national championships for women golfers. Betty Jameson won by six shots at Starmount Forest Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., with Sessions and another amateur, Polly Riley, finishing second.
Sessions, who went on to the University of Michigan, won numerous local titles, including three Spring Lake Invitationals at Spring Lake Country Club in 1942, ’46 and ‘47. The Spring Lake event, an invitational of top women golfers and a prestigious event that continues today, was also won by Sessions’ mother, Helen (1919 inaugural tournament). The young Sessions made golf news when she shot a record 68 during a Spring Lake qualifying round in ‘46 while playing with golf legend Babe Zaharias.
On the state scene, Sessions won what was then considered the state junior championship in 1941 and claimed what is now known as the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship in 1946 at Detroit Golf Club. In Muskegon sports lore she is remembered for having won the city tennis and golf titles for women on the same day in 1942.
She took her game international, too, winning the Mexican Women’s Open in 1946, and in 1947 she made headlines by being the first woman to break the men’s par standard of 72 with a 69 at Pinehurst Country Club during a Christmas tournament.
She turned professional in 1948, and sponsored by Wilson Sporting Goods in 1950, took to the LPGA Tour. She didn’t win as a professional, and leukemia soon forced her to give up competitive golf. She then worked in the Detroit Public Schools as an athletic director and lived and worked in Detroit until her death.