Louise Suggs, a golfing pioneer who helped found the women’s professional golf tour, passed away at the age of 91 on Friday in Sarasota, Florida. She was one of the 13 golfers that formed the LPGA back in 1950.
Suggs was not just a golfing pioneer; she was one of the most talented and dominate golfers on the LPGA Tour during its earlier years. Her 61 career victories puts her fourth on the list of all-time victories recorded by any female professional golfer; 11 of those victories were major championships, including the 1949 U.S. Women’s Open which she won by an incredible margin of 14 strokes.
Her golf swing was technically sound and her tempo smooth. She swung the club effortlessly, yet still hit the ball long off the tee, averaging more than 250 yards with her drives. An admirer of Suggs, the great Ben Hogan, once commented that Sugg’s swing and her game were ideal models for all women looking to pick up the game of golf.
“If I were to single out one woman in the world today as a model for any other woman aspiring to ideal golf form, it would be Miss Suggs. Her swing combines all the desirable elements of efficiency, timing and coordination. It appears to be completely effortless. Yes, despite her slight build, she is consistently as long off the tee and through the fairway as any of her feminine contemporaries in competitive golf. And no one is ‘right down the middle’ any more than this sweet-swinging Georgia miss.”
The legendary golf pioneer was born on September 7, 1923, in Atlanta, and was the daughter of Johnny Suggs who was a pitcher for the Atlanta Crackers a minor league baseball team. Louise started learning the game when she was 10 and soon developed a passion for the game of golf that led her to become one of the greatest female golfers ever to embrace the game.
Aside from her career as an LPGA Tour professional, Suggs served as president of the LPGA from 1955 to 1957, and soon became the first woman to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
When Suggs and other golfing pioneers first formed the LPGA, the notion that a professional league for women golfers could exist seemed unrealistic given the fact that in the 1950s sports and much of general society were dominated by male figures. In 1950, there were only 14 tournaments conducted by Suggs and her colleagues, who not only helped set up the courses, made tee times, and managed the business of running a professional tour, but also competed in the very events they helped conduct.
Today, thanks to legendary golf pioneer Louise Suggs, the burgeoning talent in young golfing stars like Michelle Wie, Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, and Lexi Thompson has taken the LPGA by full force as the future of women’s golf continues to grow.
[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]