Marian Littlefield has been hailed as “the Rain Man of golf” because she could call up a set of flawless lie shots from her toes.
The strapping, 6ft-tall American, who weighs 250kg, was able to throw out virtually any card her club had and even predicted that Simon Muirhead would play at a lower number than his form suggests.
An 84-year-old widow who died earlier this month, she was diagnosed with dementia five years ago but remained utterly coherent in her most important role – at the top of the golf world.
A protégé of legendary amateur Cliff Drysdale, Littlefield hit on with Muirhead and his personal tutor Bernd Lenhoff and won play-offs for LPGA tour cards in 1963 and 1963-65 and for the US Pro Tour in 1974.
Her career peaked in the late 1960s when she defied the unwritten rules of golf by hitting wedges out of the sand with a huge wedge which was clearly visible in her pocket.
Her gift was also that she could drop any ball into any sand trap and call the whole thing up. With her allowance of 39 yards into the hole it proved to be a remarkably accurate and reliable weapon.
She had been practising her unorthodox ways since she was just four but soon noticed that with the mental and physical demands of her job, anyone else would have to employ a map and reference book to keep track of where they were.
Her mind was always active and when she left the television studio, where she worked as an analyst for the Golf Channel, she was able to clock up more than 200,000 miles as a golf hustler.
Her standing in the world of golf was such that Jack Nicklaus was able to ask her to sign a golf ball which he once hit into the sea.
Marian Littlefield has been hailed as the Rain Man of golf because she could pick up a set of tee shots and place them on the grassy bank of the links in her mind
Those remarkable abilities came to a sudden end when she started to suffer from Lyme disease in 1983.
She won’t have regretted giving up her wildly successful career as a chauffeur in 1991 when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only a few weeks to live.
The campaign to help her and raise funds for her treatment led to several months of success in the hospital until the organ failed.
She may not have come back again but if her circle of friends will agree, she had the rare ability to give her life meaning.
Her doctors wouldn’t say what would happen to her body if they started to see her monthly marks move again but Mrs Littlefield was regarded as the heart of the local community and used to write movingly to her friends about the lack of family in her life.
Family traditions – and a good steakhouse – were at the heart of her life and the easy way she greeted everyone helped forge a strong bond between her and her comrades.
And that belief that there was always more to learn made her unique.
“I think she was the Rain Man of golf,” said PGA Tour pro Dan Tuerk, who worked with Marian in Dallas.
“I call her ‘The Human Wonder’.”