ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (April 22, 2020) – The World Golf Hall of Fame has named four-time major champion Susie Maxwell Berning as the fourth and final Inductee of the Class of 2021. Maxwell Berning, a native Californian who grew up in Oklahoma City and learned the game from legendary Lincoln Park instructor U.C. Ferguson, was selected through the Female Competitor category, learning of her impending Induction from LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan.
“Quite an honor,” said Maxwell Berning, who was selected to the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame in its first class in 2005. “Just to be in the same room as Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, Judy Rankin and Patty Berg – 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 began playing golf at the age of 13 and won three-straight Oklahoma State High School Golf Championships. She won the Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association State Amateur in 1963 at Elks Country Club. She was the first female to be offered a golf scholarship from Oklahoma City University and played on the men’s team for legendary basketball coach Abe Lemons, who was coaching multiple sports at OCU.
Oklahoma City fielded its first women’s golf team in 2000-01. The Stars have won eight national championships in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2017. Maxwell Berning spoke to the competitors of the 2019 NAIA women’s golf championships hosted by OCU at Lincoln Park Golf Course in Oklahoma City prior to the tournament May 13 at Vast atop the Devon Tower.
The Stars have hosted the Susie Maxwell Berning Classic each year since 2013-14 at Lincoln Park. Maxwell Berning earned a business degree and was part of the secretarial club at OCU.
“What an incredible honor for Susie,” OCU coach Marty McCauley said. “From Lincoln Park Golf Course and Oklahoma City University to the World Golf Hall of Fame, it’s outstanding. I could not be more proud to have one of our own join such a distinguished group.”
After becoming an LPGA professional in 1964, Maxwell Berning earned the Rookie of the Year title. Her first victory also came in Oklahoma at the Muskogee Civitan Invitational in 1965. Throughout her career, she won 11 times including an impressive four Majors – the 1965 Women’s Western Open and the U.S. Women’s Open three times in 1968, 1972 and 1973 – all while balancing family life as a mother. She is one of only four women to win the U.S. Women’s Open three or more times.
“I’m excited for Susie,” said Beth Daniel, World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2000 Inductee. “The thing that makes her stand out is her four Majors which she won while juggling a family. There are very few women in the history of golf that have been able to do that, and it lets female golfers know they can have a family and a career. Nancy Lopez did it. Juli Inkster did it. But before them, Susie Berning did it.”
“Susie perfectly embodies what it means to be a Hall of Famer,” said LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan. “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 Tour. 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.”
“It is an honor to welcome Susie Maxwell Berning into the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said Greg McLaughlin, CEO of World Golf Foundation. “With four Major Championships to her name, her legacy really speaks for itself. Her life and career will impact today’s golfers and future generations to come. We are looking forward to celebrating Susie and sharing her story as a Hall of Fame Inductee.”
Maxwell Berning rounds out the Induction Class of 2021, joining Tiger Woods, Marion Hollins and Tim Finchem. The four Inductees will bring the World Golf Hall of Fame Member total to 164.
The Class of 2021 is elected by the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee, which discussed the merits of 10 finalists. The Selection Committee is a 20-member panel co-chaired by Hall of Fame Members Beth Daniel, Nick Price, Annika Sorenstam and Curtis Strange, and includes media representatives and leaders of the major golf organizations.