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Susie Maxwell Berning, four-time major champion, rounds out World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2021

April 22, 2020

Susie Maxwell Berning’s resume is impressive on more than one level, but on the one that matters most for her legacy, it shows three U.S. Women’s Open victories and four major championship titles. On that alone, she was worthy of inclusion in the World Golf Hall of Fame, which became official with Wednesday’s announcement of her election as she joins Tiger Woods, Marion Hollins and Tim Finchem in the Class of 2021.

But Maxwell Berning also is a mother, a part of a small group in her competitive days at that time that successfully balanced motherhood and a golf career, before she eventually gave up the latter to focus on the former.

She also was an accomplished teaching professional with the Nicklaus-Flick Golf Schools, with the LPGA recognizing her as one of its top 50 players and teachers.

“Quite an honor, just to be in the same room as Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, Judy Rankin and Patty Berg,” Maxwell Berning said in a news release about her WGHOF selection. “I tell you I remember when I first was on the Tour, just how nice Patty Berg was to me and I was scared to death, as it was the first time I ever played with Mickey. To be honored alongside them is something I thought would never happen. I never even thought about it. I'm now part of their family, which makes me very proud.”

Maxwell Berning, 78, won 11 times on the LPGA, including the four majors—the Western Open in 1968 and the U.S. Women’s Open in 1968, 1972 and 1973.

A member of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, Maxwell Berning played on the men’s golf team at Oklahoma City University. The team was coached by their renowned basketball coach Abe Lemons, something of a legend in that field, “the most humorous coach I’ve ever known,” John Wooden called him.

Lemons wrote her into the lineup as S. Maxwell and called her Sam as a hedge against letting the competition know too soon that it would be competing against a woman. Some opponents objected, but in fact they might take solace in the fact that they were competing against a future Hall of Famer.

“Susie perfectly embodies what it means to be a Hall of Famer,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said in the news release. “She was a trailblazer from when she first picked up a club throughout her amateur career, and then made a big splash once she reached the LPGA.

“I think about the short list of individuals—male or female–who have won three U.S. Open titles, let alone four major championships, and understand just how incredible that is. She also shortened her career when she made a decision to walk away to focus on family–something every female professional can empathize with and respect.”