Robbye King Unger
About Robbye King Unger
When she was a teenager and just beginning her playing career, Robbye King Unger’s father, U.S. Navy Admiral Ed King, asked a couple of golf pros he knew to take a look at her swing.
The session was at Bide-A-Wee Golf Course in Portsmouth. The pros were former PGA champion Chandler Harper, Bide-A-Wee’s manager and pro, and White Sands Golf Club pro Tom Strange.
“The thing I remember best about that day,” said Unger, “is that there were two little boys down the practice tee 25 or 30 yards or so, throwing sand at each other. They were Tom’s twins, Allan and Curtis Strange.”
Now, Unger is in the four-person, third class of the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame into which Harper and Curtis Strange were inducted in 2016.
Unger, a resident of Daleville, Va., won six VSGA women’s amateur championships and was in the final twosome of four other title matches. Only one player—Harper’s sister Lilly Harper Martin—won more state women’s amateurs. Unger won her first VSGA title in 1963 and her last—the VSGA senior women’s championship—in 2003. That was six years after she was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
Unger said her father was her primary teacher and influence. “He believed Ben Hogan’s book, ‘Five Lessons,’ was the Bible of golf instruction,” said Unger. “That book got so dog-eared we had to keep it together with masking tape.”
Unger learned what Hogan was teaching. In one summer, she won the Virginia, D.C., Maryland and Middle Atlantic women’s amateurs.
Like another outstanding Virginia amateur—2016 Virginia Golf Hall of Fame inductee Vinny Giles—Unger decided not to turn professional. “For two summers,” said Unger, “I played [as an amateur] in LPGA tour events in places like Ellicott City, Md., Chicago, Waterloo, Iowa and Winchester, Va.
“I didn’t like living out of a suitcase. You traveled on Monday, washed clothes on Tuesday, played a pro-am on Wednesday and then started the tournament on Thursday. At dinner every night, the conversation was all about golf. Then the next week you did it all over again. That wasn’t for me.”
So Unger built a life that included golf but was not dominated by it. “Between us, my husband and I have eight grandchildren,” she said, “and one-and-one-half great grandchildren.”
In 1963, Unger concurrently held women’s amateur titles for the VSGA, the Maryland State Golf Association, the Middle Atlantic Golf Association and the District of Columbia Golf Association.
Appearances in the title match of the VSGA Women’s Amateur Championship
The year Unger was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame
Years between Unger’s first VSGA individual title (1963 Women’s Amateur) and her last (2003 Senior Women’s Stroke Play).
Consecutive VSGA Women’s Amateur championships for Unger (1969-72)
Achievements & Media
Special thanks to the USGA, PGA Tour, VSGA, MAPGA, WVGA and inductee family members for contributing photos and videos to this project.
Date of Birth: May 2, 1943
College: Wake Forest University (undergrad); University of Virginia (Master’s)
Amateur achievements: Semifinalist at the 1963 U.S. Women’s Amateur; quarterfinalist in 1962 U.S. Women’s Amateur; alternate for 1964 U.S. Curtis Cup team; In 1963, won the VSGA, Maryland, District of Columbia and Middle Atlantic Golf Association women’s amateurs.
Year turning pro: N/A
1963 VSGA Women’s Amateur
1966 VSGA Women’s Amateur
1969 VSGA Women’s Amateur
1970 VSGA Women’s Amateur
1971 VSGA Women’s Amateur
1972 VSGA Women’s Amateur
2003 VSGA Senior Women’s Stroke Play