miss march is a champion parbuster who hopes to make professional golf her livelihood
If you belong to those legions of weekend linkers who never expect to score on the bright side of 80, it may come as somewhat of a shock to learn that petite Priscilla Wright -- our 5'2" March Playmate and gatefoldom's foremost lady golfer to date -- has been a mid-70s swinger since childhood. The towheaded 22-year-old, daughter of a Huntington Beach, California golf pro, Priscilla -- or Pat, as she prefers being called -- gave early notice of her parbusting potential when, at 13, she stroked her winning way to the title of Southern California Junior Champion. "As soon as I was old enough to hold a putter," she recalls, "my dad and I would put in at least an hour a day on the greens. While all my girlfriends were building their doll collections, I was busy polishing my first set of irons. Even after my parents separated and I lived with Mom, Dad and I always had a steady weekend date to play the back nine at whatever course he happened to be working."
An artful miss -- both on and off the fairways -- pert Pat helps out in her artist-mother's Palm Springs studio weekday mornings ("Mom says I might make a pretty fair commercial cartoonist if I ever hang up my clubs"), then drives out to Huntington Beach for some late afternoon pointers from her dad on how to prepare for the rigors of full-time tournament play. "When my folks first broke up," Pat told us, "I thought the world had come to an end. Now that I'm of marriageable age myself, I can understand that their interests in life were too different not to lead them down separate paths. I'm just as close to both of them as ever: When I can't keep my golf score near par, Dad and I hold a series of reassuring career conferences: and when my problems are strictly girl-boy ones, I couldn't ask for a better morale booster than Mom. In a way, I guess I'm luckier than a lot of kids from so-called happy homes whose parents never took time to help them with any of their teenage growing pains."
Next fall, after she's taken a crack at teeing off in a few forthcoming regional summer tourneys, Pat plans to enroll at Santa Barbara College as a fine-arts major. "You might call it a sort of educational insurance plan," she explains. "If I don't make the grade as a lady golfer, I figure it's best to have something else going for me -- and painting is the only other field that intrigues me at the moment." When she's not busy at her drawing board or teeing off, this month's minuscule miss spends her off-ours poring over stacks of science-fiction ("Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov are my two literary loves") and videophiling the night away in hopes of finding one more late-late Bogey rerun to watch. "I'll take the rugged type over the pretty boy any day in the week," says Miss Wright in describing her concept of Mr. Right. "Too many of Hollywood's handsome guys turn out to be total phonies once you've looked under their photogenic surfaces." A self-proclaimed loner, Pat prefers a quiet dinner à deux and a post-prandial jazz set or two when she's out on the town ("As far as I'm concerned, crowded night clubs are for couples who substitute noise for communication").
It was at Palm Springs' fashionable Thunderbird course that centerfoldom's queen of clubs satisfied our photographer's curiosity about golf's more glamorous side. Pat made a special effort to put her best form forward during her Playmate shooting when reminded that President Eisenhower owned a home on the club grounds and might show up to shoot a few holes if he was in residence. He wasn't -- but we're sure he would join us in dubbing this month's bantam beauty a real First Lady of the fairways.
Photography by Mario Casilli