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Betty Hicks
July 23, 1956
Competition among top professional women golfers is tougher than ever, but the purses are bigger, too
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July 23, 1956

The Women Pros Pro And Con

Competition among top professional women golfers is tougher than ever, but the purses are bigger, too

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Marlene once challenged her father's family record of consecutive successful strokes from a distance of eight feet. After holing over 600 in a row, Marlene muffed, leaving papa's mark of 800 intact.

Asked about back fatigue in this two-hour putting stint, Marlene answered, "No, I didn't get tired. I stopped to rest once."

But even such resignation to tedium had brought Marlene Bauer no impressive tournament rewards in professional golf. That was until last January, when she returned to competition after a six-month layoff. In the interim Marlene married her sister Alice's ex-husband, Bob Hagge. Since Alice and Hagge had had a daughter, Heide, Marlene thus became her own niece's stepmother, a transition which jarred the close-knit Bauer family only temporarily.


Almost at once Marlene jumped to the No. 1 spot on the dollar list, but her competitors presumed the spurt might be temporary. When she won three straight major tournaments—Pittsburgh Open, Triangle Round Robin, and LPGA championship—they began preparing their answers.

"It's those two guys following her," said one, referring to Hagge and business associate Harry Hovey. (They're hotel-building in Asheville, North Carolina.) "They gallery her and cheer for her and tell her she's great and never chew her out for bad rounds. They make her want to play better and they make her think she can."

Such treatment was in marked contrast with the stern disciplines imposed upon her by her perfectionist father, Dave. So strong is his influence that even after winning the LPGA championship Marlene told friends that she thought she had played well, "but probably Daddy doesn't think so."

Tagging Marlene in 1956's money winning is Louise Suggs, herself a former leading money winner and, with Patty Berg, the troupe's most consistent performer.

The intensity of Louise's efforts is not evident in her swing, the most esthetically pleasing one of them all, nor in her course mannerisms. Outwardly she appears nerveless and confidently efficient, which she definitely is not.

Louise is one of the great women golfers of all time. But by her own reticence she has robbed herself of the recognition her shot-making skill should have earned her. Also she plays a less spectacular brand of golf than that of some of her more colorful contemporaries. Her swing never varies, which gives her game an impersonal mechanical appearance. She plays without histrionics, and with no more emotional display than an occasional darkly threatening gesture toward a putt which is about to drop. She has steadfastly refused to merchandise herself to golf fans.

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