First she was known as “The Great Gundy.” Then “Big Momma.”
She loved match play, showboating to the galleries, riding motorcycles and partying in the clubhouse with members after her rounds. As JoAnne Gunderson, and later JoAnne Carner, she dominated women’s golf and nobody had more fun dominating than she did. There was a little Babe Ruth in her, a little Babe Zaharias, a little Walter Hagen and a little Shelly Winters, too. It made for some package.
“The ground shakes when she hits it,” Sandra Palmer once said, and with that statement the LPGA had a different type of folk hero to package with the glamour of Jan Stephenson and the youthful innocence of Nancy Lopez. While the youngsters were selling the LPGA Tour, Carner was going back to her Gulfstream motor home, where her husband, Don, had prepared dinner and found a stream where the fish were just waiting to take their lures. “I play better golf living in our trailer,” Carner said, and for a long while, nobody played it better.