ANIELA GORDZCYA GOLDTHWAITE
May 24, 1912 – December 24, 2003
In 1927 the 15-year-old Aniela Gordzyca suffered from frailness. Her doctor ordered her to exercise and get plenty of fresh air. Wondering what she would do for exercise, the doctor suggested that she play golf.
Gordzyca soon began golfing lessons on the Worth Hills Golf Course, the city’s only public links. Within months her health and her game had improved greatly. By 1930 Gordzyca won her first city championship. During 1933-34 she had three momentous events: she won the Southern Women’s Championship and the city and state tournaments; she made her debut, being presented by the Steeplechase; and she met her eventual husband Frank Henry Goldthwaite.
Although a debutante with grace and charm, her golf game was anything but genteel. She practiced or played almost every day, developing a reputation as a competitive “skinny young girl who drives the ball a mile.” Her long-iron game became outstanding, even winning notice from famed professional Byron Nelson. Yet while perfecting her own game, Goldthwaite also mentored fellow-amateur Polly Riley, some fifteen years her junior.
From 1930 to 1941Goldthwaite dominated Texas amateur golf. She won ten city championships, four Texas Opens, three Texas Women’s Golf Association titles, two Southern and one West Texas championships. Goldthwaite won the 1937 Women’s Texas Open, the first major tournament played at Colonial Country Club, and she considered it her finest victory. Ben Hogan called it the “greatest performance by a woman golfer in the history of the game.”
Playing her best golf during the 1930s, Goldthwaite participated on two Curtis Cup teams (1934 and 1936), and was chosen as the non-playing captain of the team in 1952. But by the early 1940s Goldthwaite began focusing on raising her three children, and often hosting visits from Babe Didrikson Zaharias. She continued playing golf but only part time, becoming, according to one Rivercrest professional, “one of the greatest part-time golfers of all time.”
After her husband’s death in 1960, Goldthwaite ran the family business while playing competitive golf. She won her last tournament (1968 Texas Women’s Senior Championship played in Waco), thirty-eight years after playing her first tournament. Though she did not win another amateur tournament, she continued playing and supporting women’s golf until her last days.