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Notable Golf Deaths of 2019

LPGA cofounder legend Marilynn Smith dies, represented a giving attitude

Marilynn Smith, one of the 13 LPGA founders in 1950 and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame has died. She passed away on Tuesday, April 9, just four days away from turning 90 years old. She had been seen in public for the final time on March 24 in Phoenix at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, greeting players as they finished. Of the 13 founders, only Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge are still living.

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan told “Marilynn was my founder, my north star and most importantly my friend. In her life, she broke barriers, shattered stereotypes and made others believe. I’ll miss her weekly handwritten cards, her daily calls to my office and her love for every LPGA teacher, tour player, and staff member. Quite simply, Marilynn left this world better than she found it — and set a standard that will guide us forever.”

Smith’s first LPGA victory was in 1954 at the Fort Wayne Open at Orchard Ridge Country Club on July 25. She won by five shots at three under par and won $700. Her final of 21 LPGA wins was on August 13, 1972, in the Pabst Ladies Classic at Riviera Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, at six under par to win by six. Her biggest victories were the 1963 and 1964 Titleholders Tournament.

Away from the course, she did TV broadcasting in the 1970s and was LPGA president from 1958 to 1960.

Smith was born in Topeka, Kansas, and grew up in Wichita.

Cliff Schrock