Tee Time: The Rosalie Knapp Story

Photo courtesy Howard Schickler Collection. Used with permission.

Born June 26, 1907, Rosalie Moran Knapp Jr. was the daughter of Edward Spring Knapp and Rosalie Moran Knapp. Her father was a wealthy stock broker and her mother was active in Christian Science circles. Her great grandfather Charles Moran, a Belgian immigrant, served as President of the Erie Railroad just prior to the Civil War. Rosalie and her brother Edward grew up at the family home on East 64th Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York, doted on by the family's live-in butler, cook and chambermaid.

Rosalie started skating as a young girl at the Skating Club of New York and made her competitive debut in 1920 at the age of twelve in a junior women's competition at the Iceland rink. Though she didn't win that event, reporter William J. Chipman remarked, "This is the first year of competition for Miss Knapp, who is in her early teens, but she made quite an impressive showing." The following year, she finished third in the junior women's event at the U.S. Championships in Philadelphia behind Bea Loughran and Guinevere Knott, earning praise for her "splendid performance in the inside loops."

Two years later in New Haven, Connecticut, she claimed the U.S. junior women's title. In 1924 and 1925, the "tall, stately" Rosalie finished second and third in the senior women's events at the U.S. Championships in Philadelphia and New York City. Impressive as these efforts were, the "soft-spoken" Rosalie was quite happy to allow Bea Loughran and Theresa Weld Blanchard to share the spotlight while she devoted considerable time to co-ordinating costumes for the Skating Club Of New York's carnivals, advocating for open marking and serving as the first chairperson of the USFSA's Committee Of Records, whose role was to "keep records of all tournaments, and any other writings and papers concerning skating history in the making."

As talented a skater as Rosalie was, it wasn't her passion. The only Tee she really cared about was the one on a golf course. Leaving the skating world behind by the time she was eighteen, Rosalie entered a string of golf tournaments, winning the Women's National Golf and Tennis Club's Championship for three consecutive years. In 1933, Rosalie and her mother claimed the Mother/Daughter Championship and the following year, she won the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association's tournament in Flushing. During this period, she was elected President of the latter organization, while her mother served as President of the Long Island Women's Golf Association. At the time, two women from the same family serving as the heads of two prominent New York City Golf Associations was unprecedented. During her tenure as the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association's President, Rosalie instituted a rule which required golfers to turn in their cards at the end of every medal competition or pay a twenty five cent fine. This rule, which proved to be quite popular, encouraged fair play and transparency.

On January 29, 1937, Rosalie married Joseph Dey Jr., the Executive Director of the United States Golf Association. Dey, a sportswriter that went on to serve as the first Commissioner of the PGA Tour, was something of a legend in the golfing world. Jack Nicklaus described him as "the most influential person in my life". Though saddened by her mother's sudden death less than two year's after her marriage, Rosalie remained active in the golfing world for much of her life. She was the woman behind The Rosalie Knapp Trophy, a much sought after women's golf tournament that continued well into the sixties. She passed away on April 10, 1990 in the Nassau County, New York hamlet of Locust Valley, her pioneering contributions to the figure skating world completely overlooked in light of her important contributions to the wonderful world of golf.

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