LPGA founder and Hall of Famer Marilynn Smith has died at 89

LPGA founder and Hall of Famer Marilynn Smith has died at 89

Metro Golf Notes Associated Press
image (AP File Photo/Stuart Ramson)
In this Oct. 19, 1999 file photo, eight founders of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) pose at a celebration of the association's 50th anniversary in New York. (Back row, from left) Marilynn Smith, Marlene Hagge, Alice Bauer, Louise Suggs and Betty Jameson. (Front row, from left) Bettye Sanoff, Shirley Spork and Patty Berg. Marilynn Smith died Tuesday.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — LPGA founder and pioneering golfer Marilynn Smith has died at 89.

The LPGA Tour said she died Tuesday in Goodyear, Arizona, surrounded by family and friends. Smith last was seen in public March 24 at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, greeting players as they walked off the 18th green.

Smith was one of the 13 founders of the LPGA Tour. Her 21 victories, two majors and endless support of her tour led to her induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Commissioner Mike Whan said on the tour's website that Smith was his "North Star and most importantly my friend."

Smith was president of the LPGA from 1958 to 1960. In 1973, she became the first woman to work a PGA Tour event as a TV broadcaster.

The LPGA Tour began in 1950. The only surviving founders are now Shirley Spork and Marlene Bauer Hagge.

Here is Whan’s full statement:

“I am saddened to share with you that early this morning, LPGA Founder Marilynn Smith passed away at age 89. 

For the LPGA family, Marilynn was special in every way. 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.

In lieu of flowers, Marilynn’s family has asked that donations be made to the Marilynn Smith Scholarship fund, which can be found here and by clicking the link to Marilynn’s scholarship. Condolences to her family can be sent to Debbie Waitkus, 1050 N. 52nd St., Phoenix, AZ 85008. A Celebration of Marilynn’s Life is also being planned, tentatively for May 11, in Arizona. More details will be passed along once we have them.

Marilynn will be missed, but she will not be forgotten. She lives in all of us now and we will continue to fulfill the mission of the women who had the courage and grit to make the LPGA a reality.

We’re all better for having Marilynn in our lives and in our hearts.”

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