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Remembering LPGA’s forgotten founders on induction into Hall of Fame

Marlene Hagge

Alice Bauer’s nickname was “sparkle plenty.” Gregarious and bubbly, one of the LPGA’s original glamour girls knew how to play a crowd. One time, daughter Heidi recalled, Bauer did a screen test in Los Angeles and was turned down after being told that said she had no personality.

“Turns out that woman said the very same thing to Lucille Ball!” Heidi said with a laugh.

Alice Bauer never won on the LPGA, but as the elder half of the Bauer sister phenomenon, she was instrumental in helping a fledgling tour find its footing. Younger sister Marlene Bauer, who was just as stylish but more intense, won 26 times on the LPGA. The famed sporting sisters – who were even married to the same man! (at different times) – took distinct paths as Alice raised two children and chose to prioritize family.

“Marlene was very serious,” said Heidi. “She could go out with a migraine and win the tournament. She could compartmentalize.

“My mom would be out there worrying about groceries.”

Marlene was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002. On Monday, Alice will join her, along with six other LPGA founders who never quite got their due.

Photos: LPGA Founders through the years

This is this story of the forgotten founders.

Marlene Hagge

Alice Bauer and Marlene Bauer Hagge (LPGA photo)


In Fred Corcoran’s autobiography “Unplayable Lies,” the 13th chapter, aptly titled “The Ladies,” begins with a phone call from Wilson Sporting Goods Company president L.B. Icely. Corcoran had recently signed Olympic sensation Babe Didrickson Zaharias as a client, and Icely wanted to know, if he could get other manufacturers’ on board, would Corcoran run a women’s tour?

In the winter of 1949, Corcoran, who’d been employed by the men’s PGA, found himself in Florida for an organizational meeting that included the likes of Patty Berg, Louise Suggs and the Babe. They had one event lined up in Essex Falls, New Jersey.

There had been a Women’s PGA that had stumbled along for a few years, Corcoran wrote, and he recalled that the charter was held by a pioneering pro, Hope Seignious, and her father. He called them in Greensboro, North Carolina, and asked if they would surrender the charter. They said no.

Corcoran called his attorney, who suggested they call the new organization the Ladies’ PGA.

And so, the LPGA was born.

That first tournament in Essex Falls had six players signed up and a purse of $3,500. Corcoran recalled that Helen Dettweilier called to withdraw…


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