Women’s golf has grown tremendously the last 70 years, everyone from young girls, collegiate and ladies’ groups can thank the determination and conviction of 13 brave and audacious women who launched the LPGA in 1950.
Fortunately for avid lady golfers, that same spirit led to the start of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals. While each decade was full of challenges and stories, with determination from a cast of characters dedicated to the game, there is no doubt that the LPGA and growth of women’s golf would not be where it is today without the dedicated fans.
The hard work and commitment provided by 13 passionate golfers is the reason the LPGA is one of the most successful women’s sports organization. Today the LPGA has over 1,700 members, dedicated to the advancements of the game with dedicated teachers, coaches and golf facilities managers.
70 years ago, the founding members where greatly involved: planned and organized golf tournaments, drafted the by-laws, supervised membership, set up the courses among many other activities. The LPGA recognizes the sacrifice and devotion of this group of distinguished women and honors them through the annual LPGA event, the Founders Cup, being played October 2021 at Mountain Ridge Country Club in NJ.
Among the dedicated founding golfers was Babe Zaharias. Babe started playing as a professional in 1947 obtaining 36 victories in her career. She was born, Mildred Ella Didriksen in 1911 and a child of Norwegian immigrants who settled in Texas. But this LPGA co-founder and World Golf Hall of Fame member, became better known as “The Babe” during her lifetime devotion in sports.
Zaharias was an Olympian who was often called the “greatest female athlete in history.” She starred in track and field and winning the silver medal in the high jump at the 1932 Olympic Games. Babe also was an All-American basketball player, earned her nickname after hitting five home runs in a single baseball game in the style of home run king Babe Ruth, and was said to have been equally skilled in tennis, bowling, billiards, diving and roller skating.
She began focusing on golf in 1934 and by 1935 she won the Texas Women’s Invitational. She continued winning 17 amateur events from 1946-47, including the 1946 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship and the 1947 Women’s British Amateur Championship, turning professional later that year. She still holds the LPGA’s record as the player who reached 10 wins, 20 wins and 30 wins the fastest. Women’s golf has come a long way, thanks to dedicated athletes like Babe Zaharias.