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Finding a way to play: COSAM alumna reflects on being Auburn's first female NCAA golfer

Published: 02/16/2018

By: Candis Birchfield

Dr. Judi Jehle, chemistry/pre-med ’72, played golf for Auburn University before there was a women’s golf team. During her undergraduate career at Auburn, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, did not offer women’s sports. The governing body had also ruled that women were not allowed to qualify for men’s teams.

As a result, Dr. Jehle’s only option was to qualify as an individual athlete representing Auburn University in tournaments around the country. She also had to shoulder her own expenses.

“During my sophomore year, the NCAA tournament was played at Duke,” Dr. Jehle said. “I qualified in the top thirty-two players, then I lost in the second round to the eventual winner, Martha Wilkerson from Fullerton State.”

In 1974, two years after Dr. Jehle graduated from Auburn, her sister would play on Auburn’s first women’s golf team.

“It would have been very difficult for me to have played golf on a team as they are now,” said Dr. Jehle. “Being a premed/chemistry major was so demanding, and I had labs most afternoons. Now, they play so many tournaments and practice so much, that I am not sure I could have excelled in both, but many athletes do.”

Dr. Jehle’s collegiate career could have been different. She was recruited to play golf in college by the University of Florida, Rollins College and Odessa College.

“I almost went to Florida, but my love for Auburn won over,” said Dr. Jehle.

Today, Dr. Jehle continues to support women’s golf at Auburn. She attends the SEC Women’s Golf Tournament every year, and she is “a great fan of Auburn’s present coach (Melissa Luellen) and past coach, Kim Evans.”

Dr. Jehle also continues to enjoy golf, making time to play almost every day during the summer and twice a week during the spring and fall.

“It is tough to say which course is my favorite because I have played so many great courses,” said Dr. Jehle. “I love Donald Ross courses, so Pinehurst #2 has to be up there at the top. I also like Seminole. But the best course I have ever played was Cypress Point.”

Dr. Jehle is a physician in Montgomery specializing in obstetrics and gynecology at Montgomery Women’s Health Associates. After receiving her undergraduate degree from the College of Sciences and Mathematics at Auburn, she attended medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and completed a three- year residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Carraway Methodist Medical Center in Birmingham. She is Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

She is also actively involved in state-of- the-art women’s health research, and she is a certified clinical densitometrist by the International Society for Clinical Densitometry.

Dr. Jehle was born and raised in Montgomery. She has received numerous accolades during her career including Outstanding Physician of the Year 2010 by the Medical Society of Montgomery County, and the Martha Meyer Role Model award from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. In addition to golf, she bird hunts, fly fishes, and enjoys following Auburn athletics.

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