Scenic Hills September2017

1969 USGA Women's Open

Hosted by Scenic Hills Country Club

In 1967, the USGA announced that Scenic Hills Country Club would be the host of the 1969 US Womens Open. It was the first, and only time, that a Florida golf course has hosted an USGA event.

The 1969 USGA Womens Open turned out to be Donna Caponi's (Donna Caponi-Byrnes) coming out party. It would be the first tournament victory for Caponi since she became a professional in 1965.

On June 29th, Donna rallied from five strokes back with a closing 69 to win the Open - a record that still stands today.

Miss Caponi finally caught, and passed the leaders on that Sunday by scoring an eagle on the 15th hole. Over the next 2 holes, she would fall back into a tie for the lead playing 1 over par.

She hit her tee shot on 18, when suddenly a fierce electrical storm hit. Players and spectators scrambled for cover where ever they could find it. As quickly as the storm arrived, it dissapated.

Fifteen minutes later, play resumed.

Seemingly re-energized after the delay, Miss Caponi then made a birdie 4 on the hole to win the championship - but not before a final putt drama.

Donna Caponi had yet to win on the LPGA Tour when she reached the final hole of the 1969 U.S. Women's Open needing a 4-foot birdie putt for the victory. Byron Nelson was doing the broadcast analysis, and nearly - inadvertently - derailed Caponi's chances.

According to the World Golf Hall of Fame's profile of Caponi, she was over the putt when she overheard Nelson say that the putt might move slightly to her right. Caponi was flustered - she saw the putt breaking slightly to the left. She backed off, wondering how the great Nelson could be wrong. She read the putt again and decided to trust her own read.

She stepped back over the ball and sank it for the win. She later learned that Nelson had been looking at a camera angle from the opposite side, so gave the opposite direction from what she was seeing. They were both right - but it was trusting her own read that won her the title.

After the dramatics, Miss Donna Caponi won her first professional tournament - a Major - with a total score of 294 Her scores for the 1969 US Womens Open were 74-76-75-69. Finishing one stroke back was Peggy Wilson, and third place was Kathy Whitworth (296)

A different player led each round. Peggy Wilson went ahead at the beginning with a first-round 71. JoAnn Prentice took the 36-hole lead with 144, then gave way to Ruth Jessen, who led at 54 holes with 220. For the second consecutive year Phyllis Preuss, was low amateur, with a score of 304.

Miss Caponi received a money prize of $5,000 and prize money totalling $31,040 was awarded, a record. Of the field of 99 who entered, 70 were professionals, a record at that time.

Less than a month after Donna Caponi won the 1969 USGA Women's Open at Scenic hills, Apollo 11’s crew of "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr. and Neil Armstrong would land in the Sea of Tranquility, and became the
first humans to walk on the moon. Later that summer, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair was host to over 500,000 fans in the greatest musical and cultural moments in US History.


Donna Caponi-Byrnes


Donna Caponi-Byrnes, who turned professional in 1965, made the 1969 U.S. Women's Open at Scenic Hills Country Club in Pensacola, Fla., her first professional victory. She went on to win 24 championships from 1969 through 1981 on the LPGA Tour. She followed her '69 Open triumph with a wire-to-wire victory in the 1970 U.S. Women's Open at Muskogee (Okla.) Country Club, and captured the 1979 and 1981 LPGA Championships. She also won the 1979 Peter Jackson Classic (now du Maurier Classic) and 1980 Colgate Dinah Shore Winner's Circle (now Kraft Nabisco Championship).

Donna Caponi-Byrnes was inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2009. she was awarded the 2009 PGA First Lady of Golf Award. Donna is a resident of Orlando, Florida, where she is one of the most recognizable roving reporters in covering tournaments for the Golf Channel.

US Open Winner Donna Caponi

Donna at Scenic Hills 50th Anniversary Celebration.  Inside the clubhouse find numerous Caponi memoribilia at The Grille.