Date of birth: July 22, 1941
Place of birth: Pasadena, California
Also Known As: Competed under her maiden name, Susie Maxwell, from 1964-68. After marriage, competed as Susie Maxwell Berning and then Susie Berning.
U.S. Women's Open: 1968, 1972, 1973
Western Open: 1965
Awards and Honors:
Member, Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame
Member, National Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame
Susie Berning Biography:
It was 1954, and the 15-year-old Susie Maxwell was chasing her horse, which had gotten away from her, across fields. When Maxwell caught up to it, she discovered the horse had run across Lincoln Park Golf Course in Oklahoma City, causing some damage to greens.
The golf pro made her a deal: Give my children horseback riding lessons, and you won't have to pay for the damage. Maxwell and the pro struck up a friendship, and the young horsewrangler began taking golf lessons.
And that's how Susie Maxwell Berning's career in golf got started. She wound up winning three straight Oklahoma high school championships and numerous amateur tournaments.
Berning was the first woman to receive a golf scholarship to Oklahoma City University, which didn't even have a women's team - she played for the men's team.
She turned pro and joined the LPGA Tour in 1964, earning Rookie of the Year honors, and competed through 1997.
Berning won "only" 11 tournaments in her career, which doesn't stack up to the greats of women's golf. However, four of those 11 wins were majors - and three of those four were U.S. Women's Open titles.
Her first major was the 1965 Western Open, then she won her first U.S. Women's Open in 1968. Berning went back-to-back at the 1972-73 Women's Open.
So why didn't she have more overall victories? A big reason is that Berning rarely played full seasons on the LPGA Tour. In only four years of her career did she play in at least 20 tournaments. Twice in her prime years (1968, 1970) she played fewer than 10 events, following the births of her two daughters. From 1970 to 1997, she played more than 15 tournaments only seven times, and several of those seasons were in the 1990s, when she was well past her prime.
After retiring from the LPGA, Berning became a highly successful teaching professional, and also competed in seniors events.