Monday, Sept. 26, 1938: Patty Berg at 20

Posted on September 10th, 2006 – 10:53 PM
By Ben Welter

Minneapolis native Patty Berg, who took up golf at age 14 and went on to win 88 pro and amateur tournaments, was a founding member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. She died early today in Fort Myers, Fla., at age 88. In this story, the Minneapolis Star caught up with her for an interview at her parents’ home two days after she won her first national title, the U.S. Women’s Amateur. She was 20 years old.

Links Wars Over

Patty Berg Gets Some Rest

Champ Back Home

Liked the campaign, but likes to get home to her own bed.

FRIENDSHIPS While Playing More Fun
Than CHAMPIONSHIPS, Says Patty
After Her Biggest Year

She has fashioned the greatest win streak in the history of women’s golf in these United States.

She has started 13 times this year and come home a winner 10 times.

She performed a feat Saturday equaled by only two others.

She won the National Women’s golf title by a 6 and 5 score just after turning the corner into the adventuresome twenties.

But all Patty wanted to talk about was the mechanics of registration at the University of Minnesota.

Patty Berg
At age 20, Patty Berg hoisted a trophy that looked more like a beer stein after winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur title at Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette, Ill., in September 1938.

Tomorrow she will move to the university along with some 1,500 others and become a full-fledged freshman.

That’s her big moment right now and, relaxing at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herman L. Berg, 5001 Colfax avenue S., for the first time in five weeks, she was far more excited about that than being the first Minneapolitan to win the women’s title.

She’s going to enroll in the College of Science, Literature and Arts. Her favorite study is history. She’s just a bit dubious about her university interests, however, because most of her pals are at private schools. But from now on it’s classwork, with golf only in interludes.

Wednesday night she’ll be honored by her home club, Interlachen, at a victory dinner. On Oct. 5 the junior Association of Commerce and other civic organizations will toast her at a citywide celebration.

Then she will settle back and forget pretty much about golf until she swings into the winter play. The extent of that depends upon her dad and “coach.” She knows she won’t play in as many tournaments as she has the pasy year.

“It’s too tough,” she explained.

Playing All Year

It has been just one endless round of tournaments for her since she started competitive play soon after the first of the year in Florida.

And no that she has established such a phenomenal record, has the whole business palled on her?

“Not at all,” she explained. “I wouldn’t care if I won another thing. I still would be as thrilled. The winning is only incidental.

“The real kick I get out of the tournaments now is the opportunity to get together with my golfing friends, meet new ones, and the sociability it all means. I like the thrill of competition and like to win as much as anybody, but friendship right now is more important.

“As a matter of fact, I like the practice rounds more than the actual tournaments. Then we get together, and really have a great time. Some might get the impression that there is a bitterness in this tournament business, but there isn’t. For instance, Mrs. Estelle Lawson Page, the defending champion whom I was lucky enough to beat Saturday, had her locker right next to mine, and we had a great time all week – yes, right through the championship match, too.

“You can emphasize that luck, too. I just happened to have more of it this year than the rest. Or maybe it was my faith in ’13.’ I was born on Feb. 13, you know, was playing in my 13th tournament, won on the 13th hole Saturday.”

While winning 10 of 13 tournaments, including 45 match play rounds and three medal meets. Patty is 45 strokes under women’s par for the whole distance. In the National Women’s meet last week she was 11 under women’s par in the match play rounds and five under regulation figures for the entire week.

The young lady has taken on remarkable poise since she won the state women’s tournament at Rochester last June.

The personable Patty has lost 11 pounds, is down to a low for her of 124, which she intends to build up.

School Has Thrills
But now it’s school – and one more thrill, her biggest to come. She’s looking forward to seeing her “kid” brother – six feet one – play football at Washburn high school.

And she wouldn’t be surprised if she saw those Gophers, too. Because, you know, football was her first love, until her father called her off from the corner lot game with the boys, and she turned her mind to golf.

Patty Berg
Before her father steered her toward golf, Patty Berg quarterbacked
her neighborhood football team in south Minneapolis. The caption on the back of this well-worn photo noted her age — “about 13″ — but failed to identify the boys in the pile. But according to Sid Hartman, that’s football legend Bud Wilkinson in the center of the photo, grinning at the camera. Sid had this to say about Berg: “She was an amazing lady. She made women’s golf what it is today.” She also remembered to send Sid a Christmas card every year for the past 50 years.

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