Patty Berg still finds golf thrilling after over 30 years of competition
August 12, 1963
WIESBADEN, Germany - Personality-plus Patty Berg might never have become one of the world's most famous women golfers had her parents not persuaded her to give up playing football at a very early age.
That was some 31 years ago. Now, the 45-year-old golfing great is still finding life just as thrilling as when she played quarterback for the 50th Street Tigers in Minneapolis back in the early '20s.
Miss Berg, here at the Rheinblick Golf Club Sunday to conduct a clinic as only she can, took time out to look back on her outstanding career. "If I could do it all over again. I'd do it the same way," she said
The red-haired queen of golf says she has the "best hobby in the world." After more than 30 years of competitive golf, she still looks forward to making the rounds. "I think of golf as a hobby - not as a way of making a living," she said.
At Rheinblick, her enthusiasm for golf was reflected on the faces of more than 200 persons who watched her demonstrate the fundamentals of her profession.
The stocky, all-around athlete made it an enjoyable afternoon for the receptive crowd here as she threw in several well-chosen golf jokes, and even sang a commercial for her sponsor, Wilson Sporting Goods Co.
Miss Berg wound up her day's "work" by instructing the gallery while playing the last nine holes of the Rheinblick layout in a foursome that included low-handicappers Aline Benton, Dev Hamilton and Emerald Justis of the local club.
The clinic here kicked off a six-week tour of Europe for Miss Berg. Her next slop will be Ramstein, where she will conduct classes Tuesday and Wednesday at the Woodlawn Golf Club. She will be at the Berlin Military Golf Course Thursday and at the Torrejon Golf Club near Madrid on Sept. 1.
Miss Berg, currently bothered somewhat by a sore left hand that has limited her play on the LPGA circuit this year, looks almost fit enough to go back to her old quarterback job in Minneapolis. She hopes to get back on the tour before the end of this year and make all the tourney stops for the next four years.
"I plan to retire when I reach my 50th birthday - not a day before," she said.
Miss Berg, the all-time leading money winner for women since turning pro in 1940, has had countless thrills, but expects many more before she hangs up her spikes for good.
Despite the troublesome left hand, she flashed some of her old form just two weeks ago when she fired a 68 to win the pro-am portion of the Milwaukee Open. The likeable athlete claims as her biggest thrills her victories in the National Amateur (1938), National Open ('46) and World Championship ('53, '54, '55, 57).
Miss Berg's golfing record is unequaled by any woman in the history of the sport. Three times voted Woman Athlete of the Year (1938, '43, '55), she has now amassed over 80 victories during her competitive career. She is a seven-time winner in both the U.S. Titleholder's tournament and the Western Open,
The three-time Vare Trophy winner holds the 18-hole record for a woman golfer - a 64 which she posted at the Richmond (Calif.) Country Club in 1952.
Looking at the young LPGA golfers of today, Miss Berg tabs Kathy Whitworth (23), Judy Kimball (22) and Carol Mann (21) for stardom. But she says they'll have to contend with "Old Berg" for a few more years.
"I'm not the Berg of old, I'm just the old Berg,' she said with a wink during the first clinic of her tour. A few minutes later, she hit a beautiful iron shot almost 200 yards down the fairway and her students began to wonder just what she had meant.