Beverly Hanson, 3-Time LPGA Major Winner

Beverly Hanson was a very successful (three major wins) player in the first decade of the LPGA Tour's existence, and, owing to her colorful personality, one of the tour's most popular players of the 1950s.

Louise Suggs once said of Hanson, "She was the class clown, so to speak, so good-natured. She was a good kid." And Barbara Romack added this description: "She was a powerful hitter of the ball, and she had a powerful temper. ... She was quite a player, and quite a character."

Date of birth: December 5, 1924

Place of birth: Fargo, North Dakota

Date and place of death: April 12, 2014 in Twin Falls, Idaho

Nickname: Bev

Hanson's Biggest Wins

As an amateur:
  • 1950 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship
LPGA Tour: Hanson is credited with 17 wins on the LPGA.
  • 1950 Women's Texas Open (as an amateur)
  • 1951 Eastern Open
  • 1953 Boca Raton Weathervane
  • 1954 St. Petersburg Open
  • 1954 Wichita Open
  • 1955 LPGA Championship
  • 1955 Battle Creek Open
  • 1956 Women's Western Open
  • 1957 Smokey Open
  • 1957 Land of Sky Open
  • 1958 Titleholders Championship
  • 1958 Lawton Open
  • 1959 Golden Triangle Festival
  • 1959 American Women's Open
  • 1959 Spokane Open
  • 1959 Links Invitation Open
  • 1960 St. Petersburg Open
Hanson also won the 1955 Hot Springs 4-Ball Invitational, a non-LPGA team tournament, partnered by Kathy Cornelius.

In the Professional Majors

Hanson won three major championships in the first decade of the LPGA's existence. Of the four majors played during her career, only the U.S. Women's Open escaped her.

Hanson won the Women's PGA Championship (then called the LPGA Championship) the first year it was played, 1955. Following three rounds of stroke play (which Hanson led with a 220), the top finishers advanced to match play. In the 36-hole championship match, Hanson defeated Louise Suggs, 4 and 3.

In 1956, Hanson added the Women's Western Open title. She finished at even-par 304, with Suggs again the runner-up four strokes behind. And in 1958 Hanson won the Titleholders Championship. She was the only golfer to finish under 300 (at 299) and won by five strokes.

She also had a pair of runner-up finishes. As an amateur, Hanson was second by two strokes in the 1951 Titleholders. And she was runner-up by four strokes to Patty Berg in the 1958 Women's Western Open.

Her best finish in the U.S. Women's Open was fourth in 1952. Hanson had 21 Top 10 finishes in majors, 11 of them in the U.S. Women's Open.

More About Beverly Hanson

Hanson was the daughter of two doctors, and her father was a member at the Fargo (N.D.) Country Club. But Beverly didn't seriously take up golf herself until after she had graduated, at age 19, from the University of North Dakota with a degree in journalism.

She went to work at The Fargo Forum newspaper. But in the winter, she headed down to Florida to get in some golfing.

"I was staying with this lovely couple, and they had a yard man who could neither read nor write, he signed checks with an X, and he was making 60 cents an hour, and I had been getting 50 cents an hour from the biggest paper in the state," Hanson told the Baltimore Sun newspaper in a 2006 article. "That's how I decided to be a golfer."

In only a couple years, starting in 1948, Hanson, then playing as an amateur, was already posting Top 10 finishes in the U.S. Women's Open. She reached the semifinals of the U.S. Women's Amateur in 1948, won the Women's Texas Open in 1949, along with the California Women's and Southern California Women's championships that same year.

And Hanson had a big final year as an amateur in 1950. She won the U.S. Women's Amateur played at East Lake Country Club in Atlanta, where she was given the trophy by Bobby Jones.

"When I was presented that trophy from Robert T. Jones Jr., I stood there with a smile on my face bigger than when I got married, bigger than when I came home from my honeymoon," Hanson later said. "It was the greatest day in my life."

She repeated as Women's Texas Open champion, and posted a 3-0 record on Team USA in the 1950 Curtis Cup.

Hanson got 1951 off to a good start, too, finishing runner-up by two strokes in the 1951 Titleholders Championship, now acknowledged as one of the majors of women's professional golf in that era. Midway through 1951, Hanson turned pro, signed an endorsement contract with MacGregor (which put her name on some of its clubs), and joined the LPGA Tour.

And she won her very first LPGA tournament as a pro, beating runner-up Babe Didrikson Zaharias at the Eastern Open.

Hanson had two wins each in 1954, 1955, 1957 and 1958, then four wins in 1959. In 1958, Hanson had the lowest scoring average (Vare Trophy) on the LPGA Tour, and led the tour in money. In addition to her 17 LPGA victories, Hanson also finished runner-up 14 times, and five of those runner-up finishes happened in 1958.

Hanson retired from the LPGA Tour in 1961 after getting married (after which she was known as Beverly Hanson-Sfingi or Beverly Sfingi). She kept trying to win the U.S. Women's Open for a few more years, though, last entering in 1964.

And although she never won the U.S. Women's Open, her 11 Top 10 finishes in it was third-best at the time of her last appearance in 1964, and it still ranks in the Top 5 in that category in the tournament record book today. Her eight consecutive Top 10 finishes from 1948-55 tied Patty Berg for the tournament record at the time, a record quickly broken by Louise Suggs — but still second-best today.

Following her retirement from tournament golf, Hanson spent 35 years as a golf instructor at Eldorado Country Club in Indian Wells, Calif. She was 89 years old when she died in 2014.

Hanson appeared as herself in the 1952 Katherine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy movie, Pat and Mike (affiliate link).

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