Louise Suggs was one of the charter members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), and her competitiveness, accuracy, and “picture swing” led her to a phenomenal amateur and professional career in golf.
Mae Louise Suggs was born in Atlanta on September 7, 1923. She grew up in a sports family: her grandfather owned the Atlanta Crackers, and her father played professional baseball and later built golf courses. When Suggs was ten years old, she began to play golf on the Lithia Springs golf course that her father had built and managed. Just seven years later she graduated as valedictorian from Austell High School and won the Southern Amateur Championship (1941).
During her amateur career Suggs won the Southern Amateur Championship twice (1941 and 1947), the Women’s Western Amateur Championship twice (1946 and 1947), the Women’s North-South Tournament three times (1942, 1946, and 1948), and the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1947. During her last year as an amateur, Suggs was a member of the victorious Curtis Cup team and won the British Amateur Championship. Suggs caught the eye of comedian Bob Hope, who nicknamed her “Miss Sluggs” for her accuracy and distance. Hope and Suggs formed a lasting friendship, playing “dime a hole.”
On July 8, 1948, Suggs turned professional and accepted a contract to endorse MacGregor golf products. In her inaugural year as a pro, Suggs won the 1949 U.S. Open by a record fourteen strokes and a score of 291. The Women’s Professional Golf Association folded that same year; thirteen players, including Suggs, drafted articles of incorporation for the LPGA in August 1950 with the help of Fred Corcoran (the business manager for Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias, one of the greatest all-around women athletes of all time) and the financial backing of Wilson Sporting Goods, Spalding, and MacGregor.
Suggs continued to win tournaments and set records throughout her pro career. Overall, she won fifty-eight professional events, eleven of which were major championship titles, including the U.S. Open Championship in 1949 and 1952; the Western Open in 1946, 1947, 1949, and 1953; the LPGA Championship in 1957; and the Titleholders in 1946, 1956, and 1959. She won the Dallas Civitan Open from 1959 to 1961, making her the first player to win a tournament in three consecutive years. Suggs also served as the LPGA president from 1955 to 1957 and wrote two books, Par Golf for Women (1953) and Golf for Women (1960).
In 1962 Suggs retired to Delray Beach, Florida, and Sea Island, Georgia, where she conducted clinics, taught golf, and played in exhibitions. She has been inducted into the inaugural class of the LPGA Hall of Fame (1951), the World Golf Hall of Fame (1979), the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in the Pioneer Category (1987), and the inaugural class of LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Hall of Fame (2000), and she was the first woman inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (1966). In 2000 the LPGA created the Louise Suggs Trophy, which is awarded to the Rolex Rookie of the Year, and in 2007 Suggs was awarded the Bob Jones award by the United States Golf Association, the highest award given by the association.
Suggs died on August 7, 2015, in Sarasota, Florida, at the age of ninety-one.