How Patty Berg helped me learn to love golf
From the AP wire:
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) – Patty Berg, the golf pioneer who won an LPGA Tour-record 15 major titles and was one of the 13 founding members of the tour in 1950, died Sunday. She was 88.
Berg won 60 LPGA titles, served as the first president of the LPGA, and was elected into the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame.
Berg hailed from my native Minnesota, more than enough to garner my reverence. But it was Berg’s signature series of golf clubs that resonate most with my golfing soul.
My brother-in-law, Doug, loved golf. He didn’t hit the ball very far, but usually pretty straight. He had a set of Ping Eye 2 woods –old-school models with steel shafts and bulging, jet-black, persimmon heads. At some point, he lost the 7-wood from the set, and brooded for months because he couldn’t find a replacement. It was, after all, his “150-yard club.”
Then one day, in a dusty odd-club bin in a second-hand sporting-goods shop, he pulled out a powder-blue Patty Berg 7-wood and bought it on the spot. It was, at long last, a perfect replacement for the wayward Ping.
Of course the first time he played that club, his playing partners (my other brothers-in-law) heckled him mercilessly for using a woman’s club. So Doug took it to a pro-shop and had them paint it black to match his Pings. Of course, this didn’t stop the heckling from family, but strangers were none the wiser.
To make a long, sad story short (but still sad), Doug died very unexpectedly seven years ago. As for the Patty Berg 7-wood, it lives on each year at the annual golf outing of which Doug was an integral part. Every year, at the first tee of the outing, all 40 guys – even those who didn’t know Doug – tee off with that club, fittingly named “Patty.” Some curse it. Others just fight back tears.
So thank you, Patty Berg, and your namesake 7-wood. You and Doug are forever linked in the very personal golf lore of several dozen avid players. I hope you two get to play a few rounds together.
Golf in peace.
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Thank you, Ms. Berg. You will be missed.
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