The Trailblazer: Helen Lengfeld
March 1, 2021
March is Women’s History Month: As part of the NCGA’s ongoing Spirit of the Game series, we take a look at the great Helen Lengfeld
It’s a good thing that Helen Lengfeld’s mother insisted that her daughter take up the more ladylike game of golf instead of focusing on ‘tomboy’ sports like baseball.
Otherwise, today’s landscape of women’s golf in Northern California would probably look much different.
Born in 1898, Lengfeld’s legacy began as a player. In 1926, the Bay Area native won the San Francisco Women’s Championship. That same year, she helped found the Women’s Golf Association of Northern California and in 1927 she won their first championship.
Fourteen years later, she started the California Women’s Golf Circuit, which featured stars such as Babe Zaharias and Patty Berg.
Renowned as a philanthropist and humanitarian, Lengfeld was also active in sponsoring some of the tournaments that would lead to the creation of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. In 1949, she’d publish the Golfer Magazine, which later became the National Golfer.
Lengfeld still was not done. She’d go on to found the California Women’s Amateur Championships, which consist of the California Junior Girls’ State Championship—the first of its kind on the West Coast–, the California Women’s Amateur Championship and the California Senior Women’s Amateur Championship. Former champions of the events include Juli Inkster, Patty Sheehan and Amy Alcott.
Combining her love of golf and dedication to volunteerism, in 1946 Lengfeld also founded the United Voluntary Services Golf Swing Clubs, which provides veterans therapy and rehabilitation through golf.
As a result of her endeavors, Lengfeld became a member of the California Golf Hall of Fame in 1982. She’d later be recognized by Golf Digest as one of the five most influential women in golf.
In 1986, Lengfeld died at the age of 88, having dedicated the majority of her life to golf and spending much of her personal wealth in supporting the game.