Beverly Hanson, forgotten pioneer in women's golf

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 22, 2014 at 4:06 pm •  Published: April 22, 2014
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Hanson won her third major at the Titleholders in 1958, the year she claimed the LPGA money title with $12,639 and the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average. She retired three years later when she married Andrew Sfingi, and they raised two sons. Hanson stayed active as the women's golf instructor at Eldorado Country Club in Indian Wells, Calif., for 35 years.

Golf author and historian Rhonda Glenn saw Hanson at the USGA's centennial celebration in 1995. Hanson was still making them laugh with a story about Jones presenting her the trophy at East Lake.

"She said, '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. It was the greatest day in my life,'" Glenn said. "She was so smart, and so funny."

Glenn put together an obituary for the USGA's website. The LPGA Tour has made no mention of Hanson's passing on its website.

Mark Johnson returned to his roots in North Dakota nine years ago when he became head pro at Fargo Country Club, where Hanson's father long ago was a member. He recalls seeing a framed photograph in a short hallway that leads to a dining room in the clubhouse. It was Hanson posing with the U.S. Women's Amateur trophy.

"I thought that was pretty neat," Johnson said. "In visiting with older members, they would talk about her, but not give any detail. She won the Amateur. The photo was taken at Fargo Country Club. That was really the extent of my research."

Sports Illustrated in 1999 published a list of each state's top 50 athletes ever. The only golfer from North Dakota was Shane McMenamy at No. 40. He won the U.S. Junior Amateur in 1996, the first 16-year-old winner since Tiger Woods.

These days, any buzz about golf and North Dakota is about Amy Anderson, an LPGA rookie from tiny Oxbow, N.D., who tied for seventh in Hawaii one week after Hanson died.

Johnson, meanwhile, plans to take that framed photo of Hanson and create a prominent display at Fargo Country Club for everyone to see, allowing members to appreciate Hanson's career and her contributions.

"I showed it to my 14-year-old daughter," Johnson said, "and the next day she was out here practicing for four hours."