Marlene Bauer Hagge, Last of the LPGA’s Founders, Dies at 89

Marlene Bauer Hagge, the final surviving founder of the Ladies Professional Golf Association and a member of its Hall of Fame, died on Tuesday in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 89.

Her loss of life was introduced by the LPGA

Hagge and her sister, Alice Bauer, who was six years older, had been amongst the 13 golfers who created the LPGA in 1950, at a time when ladies’s golf obtained little consideration in the sports activities pages.

The LPGA Tour would ultimately yield important prize cash. But in its early years, the Bauer sisters and famend gamers like Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Patty Berg, Louise Suggs, Betty Jameson and Marilynn Smith competed for slender purses and had been pressured to crowd collectively in vehicles on their travels to tournaments.

Hagge turned the final residing LPGA founder when Shirley Spork, who was identified particularly for educating ladies golfers, died in April 2022.

Hagge, who was a slender 5 toes 2 inches however possessed a strong swing, gained 26 professional tournaments, together with the 1956 LPGA Championship, one of the tour’s majors, and her profession prolonged by way of its first 5 many years.

She was inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame in the veterans class and the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002. Her sister, Alice, completed in the high 10 of LPGA tournaments a number of occasions, most notably at No. 4 in the 1958 Women’s Open.

Eschewing the staid lengthy skirts that had been then a staple of ladies golfers’ uniforms, Hagge opted for shorts. She was seen as a glamorous determine of the ladies’s recreation, typically showing on the covers of magazines, with many admirers extra fixated on her appears to be like than her abilities. (In a mirrored image of the time, a 1973 concern of Golf Digest included an image of her chipping onto a inexperienced with the caption “Marlene Hagge — good and horny.”)

Recalling the golf clinics hosted by the LPGA earlier than its tournaments, Hagge informed Sports Illustrated in 2002 that Berg, as the MC, would say to the members, “Look at these ladies.”

“She would level at Alice and me,” Hagge recalled, “and say, ‘Isn’t it grand to be fairly and have the ability to hit it, too?’”

Marlene Bauer was born in Eureka, SD, on Feb. 16, 1934, to Dave and Madeline Bauer. Her father, an avid golfer, leased the city’s golf course, about an hour southeast in Aberdeen. When Marlene was 3 years outdated, he lower down the shaft of a golf membership and began giving her classes. He tutored Alice as nicely.

The household moved to La Quinta, Calif., when Marlene was 10, in search of a heat local weather the place golf may very well be performed year-round. She gained the Long Beach City boys’ junior championship simply after the household arrived in California, there being no comparable occasion for ladies. By age 13, she had gained a number of tournaments in California.

She emerged on the nationwide scene in 1947 — nonetheless at solely 13 — when she completed eighth in the United States Women’s Open Championship. She gained the United States ladies’ junior championship in 1949 and obtained the Glenna Collett Vare Trophy, named in honor of one of the most distinguished figures in ladies’s golf. Lincoln Werden, a longtime golf author for The New York Times, described her at the time as “a cool little participant who could make all types of shot.”

Just a few weeks later, she achieved a surprising second-round match-play victory in the nationwide novice ladies’s championship, besting Vare, the event’s six-time titleholder, and making it to the semifinals.

The Associated Press named her Athlete of the Year and Golfer of the Year for 1949.

Hagge captured her first skilled title at the 1952 Sarasota Open at age 18. She was at her greatest in 1956, when she defeated Berg on the first further gap of the LPGA Championship at Forest (*89*) Country Club in Detroit. Her victory was value all of $1,350 (about $15,000 in right this moment’s cash). She gained eight tournaments that yr, completed second 9 occasions and led the ladies’s tour in earnings, garnering greater than $20,000.

In 1971, she set a nine-hole LPGA scoring file of 29 at the Buick Open in Columbus, Ohio, a mark unmatched for 13 years.

She performed on the tour by way of 1996, when she competed in 4 occasions. She had profession earnings of $481,023.

Hagge’s second husband, Ernie Vossler, a PGA Tour participant and course designer, died in 2013. Her first marriage, to Bob Hagge, additionally a PGA Tour participant, who had beforehand been married to her sister, led to divorce. Alice Bauer died of issues of colon most cancers in 2002 at 74. Information on survivors was not instantly accessible.

For all her accomplishments, Hagge wasn’t precisely a well-known face to the public. In 1958, she appeared on the CBS TV program “To Tell the Truth,” through which 4 superstar panelists quizzed three individuals claiming to be the particular person whose biography had simply been described. The actor Don Ameche disqualified himself as a result of he had met her. Only the actress Polly Bergen accurately recognized her.

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