LPGA co-founder Louise Suggs dies

Story highlights

  • Louise Suggs, one of 13 founders of the LPGA, has died at age 91
  • Suggs won 61 tournaments, including 11 major championships, as a professional

(CNN)Louise Suggs, one of the 13 founders of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, has died. She was 91. The LPGA announced her death Friday.

"Like a parent, I think she was even more proud of the LPGA players of today than she was of her own playing results," LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said. "I feel like the LPGA lost a parent, but I'm extremely confident that her vision, her competitiveness, and most importantly, her spirit will be with this organization forever."
Suggs is a member of the LPGA and World Golf halls of fame. She is one of seven women to win the LPGA's Career Grand Slam -- winning every major championship -- and was the first to accomplish the feat in 1957.
    As a professional, Suggs won 61 tournaments, including 11 major championships. She won at least one LPGA tournament for 13 consecutive years from 1950-1962.
    Despite her success on the course, Suggs may be most well-known as being one of the 13 founders of the group in 1950. The founders played, organized tournaments, established rules and bylaws and supervised membership.
    Suggs was born in Atlanta in 1923 to a baseball family. Her grandfather owned the Atlanta Crackers, a minor league franchise. Her father, John, was a former pitcher who went to spring training with the New York Yankees in 1923.
    But it was golf, not baseball, in which Suggs became famous. Her father built and opened a golf course in Lithia Springs, an Atlanta suburb. Suggs began playing at age 10. By the time she turned professional, she had five of the world's leading amateur trophies.
    Known for her feistiness, one of the memorable moments in Suggs' career was a 14-stroke win against another golfing legend, rival Babe Zaharias, in the 1949 U.S. Women's Open. That margin of victory still is tied for the largest victory in that event's history.
    And she showed she could compete against the men, too. In an LPGA tournament held on a par-3 course in Palm Beach, Florida, in 1961, Suggs won against a 24-player field that also had PGA professionals, including Sam Snead, who was once one of the top players in the world in the men's game.
    "Golf is very much like a love affair," Suggs once said. "If you don't take it seriously, it's no fun. But if you do, it breaks your heart. Don't break your heart, but flirt with the possibility."
    Suggs died in Sarasota, Florida.