Peggy Wattles Pulleyn

Peggy Wattles Pulleyn

Born in Buffalo in 1911, Peggy Wattles won her first golf tournament as an 11-year-old paired with her father Frank, the Founder of Niagara Frontier Food Terminal Inc. A WNY district championship followed when she took defending champion Mrs. Joseph Bydolek to a second elimination round.

Wattles, coached by famed U.S, Open winner Alex Smith, brought her game to unprecedented heights for her age. In 1926, Wattles played her first major tournament, the North and South in Pinehurst, N.C. Later, she lasted into the second round of the Shinnecossett tourney.

As a 16 and 17-year-old, she had already secured her way into the local golf record books by winning back-to-back Western New York Golf Association championships at Wanakah Country Club. A graduate of Bennett Junior College in Millbrook, N.Y., Wattles proceeded to win six Western New York titles in 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1931, and 1932, only missing the 1930 tournament to be a bridesmaid.

Upon the invitation of national golf champion Glenna Collett in 1930, Wattles played in the British women’s championship; the first Buffalonian ever to do so. Then in 1931, after winning two other Florida championships, she headed to Miami where she won Miami’s golf championship.

In 1932 Wattles became the first Buffalonian to win the New York State Golf Championship at Yahnundasis Country Club in Utica, and was the first to gain permanent possession of the Buffalo Evening News trophy by winning the Women’s Buffalo District Golf Association title in 1935, 1936, and 1937 (Permanent ownership of the trophy was awarded after three consecutive wins).

A member of the 1930 pre-Curtis Cup team, Wattles advanced to the quarterfinals in three national championship events. At the prestigious Augusta Country Club course, she collected the Augusta Women’s Invitational Golf Tournament Runner-Up title in 1935 and also won the 1936 co-champion title. She followed those impressive finishes a year later by winning the Salt River Valley Women’s invitational Tournament in Phoenix, Arizona. 

In 1936, she was the runner-up in the British Colonial women’s tourney held in Nassau. Wattles  added to her international titles winning the Princess hotel invitation women’s golf tournament and the Belmont Manor Women’s golf tournament, both held in 1938 in Bermuda.

Wattles married Robert Pulleyn in 1939 and settled in New Jersey. She became a founding member of the “The Magic Shop,” a gift shop established to assist returning World War II veterans. Since then, it has been a financial supporter of the Bonnie Brae Home for Boys, a boarding institution that teaches troubled children academic subjects and trade skills.

Her benevolent work continued throughout her years. After discovering inadequate care for an autistic grandson, she, along with her daughter, opened the Princeton Child Development Institute (PCDI) in 1970, which grew into one of the nation’s outstanding autistic institutes. In 1983 Ronald Reagan honored it as one of the 60 “exemplary” private schools in the country.

Upon Peggy’s death in 1996, her daughter remarked that “Peggy never compromised, that she never denied any possibility of success and that she never admitted any possibility of defeat.”