As golf legend JoAnne Carner prepared to take her first swing at the Suquamish Clearwater Legends Cup presented by Boeing last week, she could be forgiven for feeling right at home, despite the stiff competition.
The newest leg of the senior women’s Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Legends Tour is held at the White Horse Golf Club in Kingston, Wash., just a short ferry ride from Carner’s home town of Kirkland, Wash. And then there’s 87-year old Helen Sherry, Carner’s sister, who also acts as her caddy.
Sherry joined Carner on the Legends Tour circuit when she retired after working 38 years at Boeing. She explained that she started as a clerk and worked her way up to manager. Both Sherry and Carner say they’re very pleased Boeing stepped forward to serve as presenting sponsor of the senior women’s tournament.
“I think it’s great that Boeing supports this tournament,” said Sherry with a grin. “I really enjoyed my years there and it’s nice to get some recognition for these women golfers and to help them extend their careers. To have a sponsor like Boeing is great.”
Carner, a World Golf Hall of Fame inductee who notched more than 40 victories during her years on the LPGA Tour, agrees. As her matriarchal nickname ‘Big Mama’ indicates, she takes her job as both a golfer and a role model seriously.
“Women have done wonderful things in sports, including golf,” said Carner. “Tournaments like this help pique the interest of the next generation.”
That is one of the reasons why Boeing began sponsoring the tournament last year. “The Legends Tour showcases some of the best-known female athletes today,” said Bill McSherry, vice president of Government Operations for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Supporting these legends of women’s golf as they continue to elevate the sport and inspire the next generation of athletes is part of Boeing’s ongoing commitment to community, diversity and inclusion.”
Boeing sponsors several other women’s sports teams and events, including Reign FC (soccer) and the Seattle Storm (basketball) in the Puget Sound region. Additionally, the Boeing Apple Cup Series expanded several years ago to include not just the iconic football game between the University of Washington and Washington State University but all the sports match-ups between men’s and women’s teams at those schools.
While Carner did not win the tournament – that distinction went to Juli Inkster – she does think senior women’s golf has found a great partnership with Boeing, and a wonderful home in the Pacific Northwest. “It’s so apropos of the Northwest,” said Carner of the tournament. “The people here love golf. There have been some great amateurs and professionals from this region. So I’m really glad it’s here.”
By Deborah Feldman