LPGA Founder Louise Suggs Dies At 91 – Pioneered Professional Women’s Golf Tournament To ‘Pick Up A Little Pocket Change’

Louise Suggs, the woman who pioneered women’s professional golf, died. She was 91.

One of the founding members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and certainly the one who encouraged other women to seriously consider golf as a profession, Louise Suggs was and still is, an inspiration. The L.P.G.A announced her sad demise and added that she had been in hospice care for some time. While details of her death haven’t been released, it can be safely presumed that Suggs died of natural causes.

Suggs was already the reigning United States and British amateur champion, when she decided to go pro in 1948. However, something was still missing for Suggs and so began the efforts to establish an official organization that promoted the sport to ladies, who back then, were quite rarely seen on the golf field. Her tireless efforts and charisma ensured L.P.G.A was formed merely two years later.

While Suggs can be considered the one who ensured the formation of the golfing association for women, she had the unflinching support of 12 other women golfers, including Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Patty Berg, who were also the main stars on the formative tours, reported New York Times.

Interestingly, while getting to play game was reward in itself, Suggs needed something that generated revenue. Reminiscing about the early days, Suggs once said something.

“We figured if we could maybe get some tournaments together, we could at least pick up a little pocket change. We were so dumb that we didn’t know we couldn’t succeed. We survived and succeeded despite ourselves.”

Interestingly, sports weren’t as financially rewarding then as they are today. Multi-million contracts, advertising gigs, and other money-spinners were unheard of. Louise Suggs, who played for majority of her life, won 61 tournaments. She is still one of only four women who have won so many and moreover, 11 of those tournaments were majors. But despite the wins, during her entire career, Louise Suggs made a total of just $190,251, reported ESPN.

Though the earnings are chump change compared to today’s winnings, Louise Suggs confirmed she had done it all for the “love of the game.”

“Golf is very much like a love affair. If you don’t take it seriously, it’s no fun. If you do, it breaks your heart. Don’t break your heart, but flirt with the possibility.”

In the 1950s, the women collectively played 14 tournaments and made $50,000 in total. This year, the LPGA Tour comprises of 32 tournaments, with winnings pegged at $60 million Not to mention, the endorsement deals that take the tally even higher. And to think, it all began with Louise Suggs’ simple concept of making “some money” from the game she loved.

[Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images]