The LPGA Tour has reported that golf legend Betsy Rawls passed away on Saturday at her home in Delaware. She was 95 years old.
Rawls, who originally studied physics, is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame because of her extraordinary career in golf, during which she won the U.S. Women's Open four times and later served as a tournament organizer, as ABC News reported. Rawls, who had 55 LPGA Tour wins and eight majors, passed away on Saturday at her seaside home.
“There are simply not many careers that can compare to Betsy's,” said Mike Whan, the CEO of the USGA and former LPGA Tour commissioner.
He mentioned her 17 years as tournament director of what was then the LPGA Championship, her admission into the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame, the Bob Jones Award, and her 55 career victories and eight majors (ranking sixth on both lists).
“She was a legend in the game who would have been successful in anything she pursued, so we are all lucky she made golf her passion,” Whan said.
Rawls met the legendary swing coach Harvey Penick while pursuing this field of study at the University of Texas. She was the runner-up at the 1950 U.S. Women's Open to Babe Zaharias and the 1949 and 1950 Texas Women's Amateur champion.
“I had every intention of being a physicist,” Rawls said in a story posted on the LPGA's website. "I played golf for fun and never considered turning professional. Then I decided it would be more fun to be in golf than physics, and Wilson paid me a salary and all my expenses. They paid my expenses for 20 years. One year, I gave 120 clinics.”
In 1951, she took home the first of four victories at the U.S. Women's Open, defeating Louise Suggs by a score of five strokes. Similar success was only achieved by the late Mickey Wright.
"Betsy has always been committed to work and dedicated to the game," Wright once stated of her. "Betsy and Patty Berg are the only two women I can think of who have accomplished as much, both as players and over the course of their careers.
Betsy Rawls, four-time U.S. Open champion and top administrator, has died. She was 95. https://t.co/Xsz6soa5Fx
— ABC News (@ABC) October 22, 2023
Born on May 4, 1928, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Rawls spent the majority of her childhood in Arlington after moving to Texas in 1940. From 1951 until 1965, she won annually on average. At age 41, she won the LPGA Championship by four strokes for her eighth and last major title. In 1952 and 1959, Rawls topped the LPGA Tour money list. In 1959, she led the LPGA in wins and tied for the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.
She received the USGA's highest accolade, the Bob Jones Award, in 1996 and was inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame in 1967. In 1980, she made history by being the first woman to serve as a rules official at the men's U.S. Open.
A tournament director and eventually the LPGA Championship director, she also served as president of the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1961 and 1962.
“Anyone who can make a living in golf is lucky,” Rawls once said. “Then to receive all the benefits accorded to me in the process … well, that makes me feel fortunate. It’s more than I could possibly deserve.”