March 16, 2006
Virginia Derby - Women's Golf - 1985-86
Virginia Derby-Grimes is no stranger to Auburn golf. A member of the 1985-86 women's golf team, she was a letterwinner and the team's player of the year. This was Auburn's first season returning to action after a four-year hiatus beginning in 1981. The following year, Grimes served as an assistant coach to Bud Marsee for the 1986-87 season.
A 1987 graduate, Grimes left Auburn with hopes of playing golf professionally. However, with the mourning of her father and constant string of injuries, she said things just kept going downhill and she could never get on the right track.
"It just seemed like every time I would get back into the swing of things, something else would happen," Grimes said. "I started thinking maybe making the tour just isn't meant to happen for me."
She continued playing, working through the injuries. Her dedication soon began paying off as she won the Southern Amateur in 1987, Alabama State Amateur in 1989 and the U.S. Open in 1987 and 1990. In 1991, the head coaching job at Auburn opened and, four years removed from the Plains, Grimes was on her way back.
The York, Ala., native returned to Auburn to try her hand in the coaching business. In three seasons, Grimes led the Tigers to a 184-197-4 record and two berths in the NCAA East Regional tournament.
"We were such a close-knit group," Grimes said. "We had such a small number of athletes that we became very close. I found that, after coaching and leaving Auburn, I still retain friendships with those people. That's the biggest thing I got out of coaching."
In 1994, Grimes began the first Tiger Invitational Golf Tournament and in 1998, it was renamed the Derby Invitational in her honor. The Derby Invitational is still held each season.
Grimes married in June 1994. She and her husband, Ben, were living in Montgomery and it was then that Grimes felt it was best to give up coaching.
"Coaching is a job where you need to be there 24 hours a day and I couldn't do that anymore." She said.
Instead, Grimes went back to playing in national tournaments, which she has been doing ever since.
Today, the 42-year old is living in Meridian, Miss., where she and her husband have been for about a year. Grimes said she is enjoying being close to where she grew up.
"It feels like I'm back home," she said.
She has added several accolades to her name, including five U.S. Open Championships, a 1998 U.S. mid-amateur title, an alternate on the 1998 USA World Cup team, two-time Curtis Cup Champion and a 2004 inductee into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Grimes recently returned to Auburn in January to attend the Women's Athletics Celebration.
"It was the best thing Auburn has ever put on," she said. "I think it was something that was very much needed, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm still talking about it. Auburn just did a great job with it."
For now, Grimes finds herself playing a lot of national amateur golf and participating in golf committees. Her current goal is to make her third Curtis Cup team. Every two years, eight amateurs are picked from each country to compete in the Curtis Cup.
"It gives you a chance to represent your country," Grimes said. "I'm really hoping to make it."
Aside from playing golf, Grimes enjoys traveling, hunting, fishing and anything having to do with the outdoors and wildlife. She also enjoys coming back to Auburn every chance she gets.
"I make it a point to get back over to Auburn," she said. "It's a unique place. The first time you meet someone there, it's as if you've known them your whole life. It's hard to describe to someone. Every chance I get to go back, I can't wait to get there."