Your Location: Set change
Open in App

Marilynn Smith

When it comes to recounting the pioneers of women’s golf, Marilynn Smith stands tall. Her accomplishments both on and off the golf course have set high standards for future generations. Her exemplary character is as enduring as her playing career; she has not only been a golfer of outstanding ability but also a great leader and advocate for women’s golf.

Smith was born on April 13, 1929, in Topeka, Kansas, where circumstances exposed her to the sport early on. She possessed natural athleticism and her love for the game was immediately stoked. Her father, a public course superintendent, introduced golf to his daughter, setting her on a path that would eventually see her become one of the finest golfers in history.

Smith embarked on her competitive playing journey as a student at the University of Kansas, where she won the 1949 national individual intercollegiate golf championship. That early triumph hinted at the remarkable career that was to unfold.

On turning professional in 1950, Smith co-founded the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), a venture that would prove pivotal for women’s golf. Establishing the LPGA in that era was a daring venture, highlighting Smith’s forward-thinking attitude and her belief in the potential of women’s golf. One of the 13 founding members, Smith would spend the next two decades juggling her playing career with administrative duties for the LPGA.

Smith’s playing record speaks volumes about her tenacity and skill. Over the years, she clinched 21 LPGA tour victories, including two major championships. Her win at the 1963 Titleholders Championship is particularly noteworthy, given the profound impact it had on women’s professional golf. However, that victory did not come easily. During her last round, Smith’s putter was damaged but she managed to adapt and win the championship using a one-iron for putting.

After a prosperous playing career, which came to a remarkable conclusion in 1972, Smith devoted her time and energy into promoting future generations within the sport. She launched the Marilynn Smith Charity Pro-am, an annual fundraising event held since 1973 that awards scholarships to young women pursuing their passion for golf. To this day, more than $1 million in scholarships has been awarded, helping numerous women succeed both on and off the course.

Through her tireless efforts, she actively brought women’s golf to the public eye. The sport’s founding mother, Patty Berg, once stated that Smith, during her over 60 years of dedication to the game, did more to popularise women’s golf than anyone else. Recognising her tremendous contribution, Smith was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006.

Reminiscing about Smith’s career, one cannot overlook her persona off the field. Humble despite her colossal accomplishments, Smith was known for her infectious smile and vivacity that charmed her peers, fans, and the media. She carried herself with grace, maintaining a zest for life that was contagious and inspirational.

Marilynn Smith passed away on April 9, 2019, marking the end of an era. However, her contribution towards propagating, improving, and popularising the sport lives on, inspiring a new generation of female golfers. Her legacy is profound and enduring; she personified the game’s spirit with her relentless passion, dedication, and respect for the sport, demonstrating that with tenacity and commitment, the fairways are truly limitless.

From a humble golf enthusiast to a pioneering professional and dedicated advocate, Marilynn Smith’s story remains an exemplar in the annals of women’s golf. And although she is remembered as “Miss Personality” for her infectious enthusiasm, her influence on the sport, through talent and trailblazing, will forever remain indelible as golf acknowledges her as one of the most influential figures in its history.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Trip: No items added yet...
Your trip itinerary is added here...