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History of The Joanne Winter Silver Belle Championship
The Silver Belle tournament was a dream of Joanne Winter.  In 1971, when Joanne started the tournament, there was very little opportunity for girls to participate in golf.  She wanted to offer more.

The first tournament was a two day event held at the Arizona Biltmore and Sierra Estrella Mountain Golf Course in Goodyear (west Phoenix) for the Silver Belle group.  General age categories were:  the Teeny Belles, age 6-9, Tiny Belles, age 10-13 and Silver Belles, age 14-22 with smaller groups within these categories.  The younger girls played at the par three Mountain View golf course, located at that time near the corner of Thomas and Hayden Roads in Scottsdale.  Joanne called all the golfers, pro golfers and golf coaches she knew to find players to enter.  The entry fee was $5.  The first tournament had 43 players in the Silver Belle group.  Now the tournament annually has 120 players with a waiting list of 40 plus who are between the ages of 13 and 23, with handicaps of 6.0 or better.  They have represented at least twenty different states and three foreign countries.  The first winner was Cathy Gaughn who shot a woman's course record 74 at Sierra Estrella Mountain for her final round.  She was an Arizona State University player.

In the 1940's, Joanne was inducted in the the Baseball Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  She was a pitcher on the Racine Belles of the All-American Girls Baseball League, which was immortalized in the film "A League of Their Own".  Her contacts through those years brought her to know Phillip K. Wrigley, owner of the Chicago Cubs.  Mr. Wrigley was also the owner of the Arizona Biltmore Resort.  Through this contact, Joanne was able to have one day of the tournament at the Biltmore with no charge for green fees.  She was able to schedule courses in the Scottsdale area free of charge as well since the tournament was usually held during the hot summer.  However, the heat of June often proved too intense for the girls to walk the courses.  The Organization decided to move the tournament to the week between Christmas and New Years.  However, during that time of year courses could no longer be obtained free of charge.  So funds had to be raised to subsidize the small entry fee.  Until that time tournament expenditures were covered by donations from Dr. and Mrs. Lester Coleman, small donations from Joanne's friends and from her own pocket.  This was the norm for several years until in 1992, LPGA player Patty Sheehan became the major sponsor.  In 1995, Hewlett-Packard took over sponsorship and in 2001 Avnet, Inc . became the tournaments main supporter.
 
Copyright © 2001  The Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle Championship
All rights reserved. Revised: January 14, 2006