As a pre-teen Marilynn Smith served as a pitcher, coach and manager of a boy’s baseball team.
Golf, she thought, was a sissy sport, and had never seriously crossed her mind. That is until one day when she came home from a bad day at the sandlot. Her mom asked her how she had done that day, and young Marilynn, still steaming in her baseball uniform and pigtails, took off her mitt, threw it down and uttered some distinctly unlady-like words.
Her mom immediately took her to the bathroom and washed her mouth out with soap. When Marilynn’s mom recounted the story to her father, he said, “I guess we’ll have to take Marilynn out to Wichita Country Club and teach her a more ladylike sport.”
Young Marilynn took to the game quickly and never looked upon it as a sissy sport again. Her amateur career included winning the Kansas Women’s Amateur three times – the first in 1946 at age 17 – and the 1949 NCAA Championship. Later that year she turned pro and would go on to win 21 LPGA Tour titles including two Major Championships (1963 and 1964 Titleholders Championship). By 1949 the Women’s Professional Golf Association, which was founded in 1944, was drawing its last breaths. Lack of organization and finances were key factors in its demise.