SCGA Member Mary Budke Inducted to Pac-12 Hall of Honor
March 13, 2023
By Shannon Nelson
Enjoy a stroll around the grounds of Mission Hills CC, and the scenery often includes some of the great LPGA players, practicing or playing one of the three challenging courses. The LPGA grew up at Mission Hills, where the premier event of the touring season was held until this year, and the champions often return here to play, several even becoming members.
Getting slightly less attention, and certainly deserving of appreciation, is a retired emergency doctor, who on Mar. 3, was inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor in Las Vegas, Nev.
Mary Budke, this humble and unassuming golf legend was an amateur hailing from Oregon when she dominated the golf scene for over a decade. She was known throughout her professional life as Dr. Mary Budke. She showed remarkable talent as a teen, winning the 1972 U.S. Women’s Amateur championship, and the national collegiate individual championship in 1974.
Her alma mater, Oregon State University nominated her for the Pac 12 Hall of Honor. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, and to mark this anniversary, all the inductees are women. The letter from them informing her of the induction was full of warmth, gratitude, and genuine pride for her accomplishments as one of their own. Their choice of her was unanimous. Golf was not her only sport - she played basketball and volleyball at an elite level while she was there studying pre-med.
Budke has also represented the United States on multiple world stages, her first appearance coming at the 1972 Women’s World Amateur Team Championships in Buenos Aires, which the US won. After that, Budke made her first USA Curtis Cup team in 1974 before being named captain of the team in 2002.
And finally, Budke won the Oregon State Championship from 1971 through 1979 (with the exception of 1975 when she didn’t play). Despite the pedigree of success on the amateur level, Budke decided to pursue her family's business and forego a professional golf career.
It’s probable that Mary’s career as an emergency doctor showed her the gritty side of life and death in a way that most people don’t see, and it certainly took her away from serious competitive golf. She practiced in New York, Los Angeles and Oregon for over 25 years. According to co-workers she was well respected in her field, with the perfect amount of emotional balance to handle people at their best and worst.
Now that Mary is retired, she is playing more golf than she has since college. She continues to compete in regional amateur events and even qualified for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, most recently held in Alaska. She is a valued member of Mission Hills, competes in their regular ladies’ play days and still maintains a Handicap Index of zero.
A few months ago while playing with Mary and her partner, Felicia, on the Palmer course it was obvious Mary was having a good round - she’d had four birdies by the end of 15 holes. But she never said a word until Felicia commented after yet another beautiful birdie on No. 16 that Mary just might shoot her age that day (she was 68). Well, Mary continued her birdie run on Nos. 17 and 18 and shot a lifetime best score of 66. When it was all over, we were stunned. Even the usually calm Dr. Budke beamed.
66 at 69 - nothing short of epic!