Hardscrabble Open, Early Women's Pro Golf Tournament

The Hardscrabble Open was one of the earlier open (to pros and amateurs alike) tournaments for women golfers in the United States, and its roster of champions reads like a who's who of the first few years of the LPGA Tour. But the tournament pre-dates the LPGA, and only three of its years are counted as official LPGA tournaments today.

First played: 1945

Last played: 1953

The Hardscrabble Opens of 1948-50 are counted today by the LPGA Tour as official LPGA events. That means the winners in those years are credited with official LPGA victories — even though the 1948 and 1949 tournaments pre-date the formation of the LPGA. In 1950, the LPGA Tour's first year of existence, the Hardscrabble Open was the last event played on the schedule. The tournament continued for several more years after that but without LPGA sanctioning.

The Hardscrabble Open used a match play format for all but one year. In 1947, Babe Zaharias won it the only time stroke play was used, by five strokes over Patty Berg. The Associated Press account of Zaharias' victory noted that her 293 total for four rounds was a new 72-hole, stroke-play record for women's professional tournaments, lowering the previous mark of 295.

In those three LPGA years, Berg was the winner all three times, including beating Zaharias in the championship match in 1948. Berg beat 15-year-old amateur Marlene Bauer in the final in 1949, and another amateur, Betsy Rawls, in the championship match in 1950.

Betty Jameson's first win after turning pro was the 1946 Hardscrabble Open; the 1951 event was Mary Lena Faulk's first pro win. And, in the final Hardscrabble, LPGA co-founder Bettye Danoff got her only win in a pro tournament.

Also known as: Hardscrabble Women's Invitation

Winners of the Hardscrabble Open

1945 — Margaret Gunther def. Jo Henson, 7 and 5
1946 — Betty Jameson def. Mrs. Gordon Perrin, 3 and 2
1947 — Babe Zaharias, 293
1948 — Patty Berg def. Babe Zaharias, 1-up
1949 — Patty Berg def. Marlene Bauer, 6 and 4
1950 — Patty Berg def. Betsy Rawls, 2-up
1951 — Mary Lena Faulk def. Mrs. H.O. Breault, 6 and 4
1952 — Betty Jameson def. Marilynn Smith, 3 and 1
1953 — Bettye Danoff def. Mrs. Carle Robbins, 5 and 3

Golf course: The tournament was played each year at, and named after, Hardscrabble Golf Club in Fort Smith, Arkansas. For most of the tournament history, the golf course was played as a par-79 for women.

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