Remembering Marilynn Smith, One of LPGA Founders
April 11, 2019
Marilynn Smith, one of the 13 founders of the LPGA, died on Tuesday, four days before her 90th birthday.
“For the LPGA family, Marilynn was special in every way,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement announcing her death. “She was our founder, our north star and most importantly, our friend. In her life, she broke barriers, shattered stereotypes and made others ‘believe.’
“I’ll miss her weekly handwritten cards, her daily calls to the office and her love for every LPGA teacher, player and staff member. Quite simply, Marilynn left this world better than she found it – and set a standard that will guide us forever.”
A native of Kansas, Smith was introduced to the game by her father, who as punishment for a tantrum she threw following a bad day of softball took her out to Wichita Country Club.
She’d shine at golf fairly fast. At just 17 she won the 1946 Kansas Women’s Amateur for the first of three times. She attended the University of Kansas and won the women’s NCAA Championship in 1949, then turned professional. in 1949, she’d join the failing Women’s Professional Golf Association.
The following year, Smith joined 12 other women and founded the LPGA. She would go on to win 21 times on the LPGA, including two major championships, the Titleholders Championship (then a major) in 1963 and ’64.