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Co-founder of LPGA Alice Bauer spoke mind

Citizen Staff

Editor’s note: Alice Bauer, one of the 13 founding members of the LPGA Tour and a longtime resident of Benson, died last week of complications from colon cancer. She was 74.

Bauer died at the home of her sister, Marlene Bauer Hagge, another LPGA founder who recently was elected to the LPGA Hall of Fame in Palm Desert, Calif.

Although Bauer never won an LPGA Tour event, she was one of the women who founded the association in 1950. Her best season was in 1956, when she was 14th on the money list.

Tucson Citizen golf editor Jack Rickard visited with Bauer in Benson in 1990. Here are excerpts from his story:

“When Marlene and I joined it (the LPGA Tour), we looked more like girls,” Bauer said candidly.

That’s Alice Bauer. She speaks her mind. She’s part philosopher, part poet, a frustrated writer, a mother, a grandmother. She quickly admits to her age (62 then), but she’s full of energy. And she also says she still doesn’t quite know what her place in the world should be. But she’s not worried about it.

Forty years ago, she often would be paired with the legendary Babe Didriksen Zaharias, one of the greatest female athletes of all time.

“She was a real showman. She was wild as a March hare, but she could come out of it because she was so strong,” Bauer remembered.

The Bauer sisters gave the early Tour some sex appeal. They were featured in national magazines. They wore shorts, especially for exhibition matches. But they weren’t out there for window dressing. Both could play. Marlene turned professional at 16, and two years later she won her first of 25 LPGA tournaments.

Alice came close but never won. After she gave birth to daughter Heidi in 1955, her tournament appearances became limited.

“In 1955 I tied for first in the Heart of America in Wichita,” Bauer said. “Marilyn Smith shanked it on the first playoff hole. It hit a tree and bounced on the green. I lost on the fourth playoff hole. Marlene always said I was the better shotmaker, but I got goosie out there.”

In 1958 her father died. From then on Alice Bauer’s pro golf career was quite limited.

“I had to take care of my mother,” Alice said. “Marlene was better. And I’m not sorry.

“I know a few people who all they have left are the trophies they’ve won. I can look at all the people I have to love. One of my philosophies is that cows give birth, mothers give love.”

It was her daughter Heidi who encouraged her to move to Benson.

“I love Benson. I don’t like small-town attitudes, though,” Bauer said. “But I can’t stand concrete. I used to go 200 miles out of my way just to get around New York City. I love the outdoors. I love what God created.

“Anyone who is bored is bored with themselves. God gave us so much to work with.”

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