Local Three-Time U.S. Women’s Open Champ Susie Maxwell Berning honored at Pebble Beach

Talialaina Letoi

It’s one thing to win tournaments as a professional, but another thing to win majors. Now, one world golf hall of Famer, Susie Maxwell Berning — who has won four majors in her lifetime, calls the Valley home for most of the year. 

Susie is one of the previous major winners that was honorably invited to the USGA’s Reunion of Champions at Pebble Beach for this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, a tournament she’s won three times.

This year also marks 50 years since she last held up the trophy on this major stage.

I can’t believe 50 years ago. I mean, really? What, where did the time go? It just seems like yesterday, I can remember almost every shot that I hit, especially during the last open.”

The World Golf Hall of Famer says she likes to see how far women’s competitive golf has come and praises the growth from all sides.

“The U.S. women’s open is going to be over at Pebble Beach. An incredible course is out there. Well, you know, what’s exciting for me to see is we’re finally, they are finally now playing some really famous all good golf courses.”

“And, you know, when I played, I think Winged Foot was probably the only golf course famous during my whole 30 years on tour. We played Pebble a couple of times and there’s a couple of holes out there that are pretty long. So it will be interesting. But the girls hate it so far nowadaysIt’s not the same game”

But what did it take for the four-time Major winner to set the pace so early in the game of golf?

 “You know, it’s a puzzle because I learned my golf at a public golf course in Oklahoma City.  Then when I got to my first US open… in 1964 when they said play away, please. It gave me a feeling of formal and for some reason I took the opens more serious. I started concentrating the first day. Whereas taking one tournament, I don’t think I put on my concentration button until the last round. I think coming from a public facility and then going into such an elegant atmosphere turned down a button.”

In the last 21 years, no one has been able to win the U.S. Women’s Open consecutively. Karrie Webb was the last player to defend her title in 2000-2001. Only a handful of players have been able to do the same including Susie, winning back to back titles in 1972 and 1973.

But Susie played in a much different time then now. After having a stellar golf career in high school, winning her high school state championship and even the Oklahoma City Amateur multiple times. She would continue playing at the next level with a scholarship to Oklahoma City University, which she said she was so grateful for.

However there was no women’s golf team. And with her being the only women to show interest at the time, she’d join the Men’s golf team. Susie says, the head coach nicknamed her “Sam,” and that would be what many players and coaches would see at tournaments.

 “When I would get there, they’d be confused and I would say Sam will do.”

The now-golf instructor at the Reserve Club says the entire experience helped and molded her into the golfer she is now.

Poor kids. Oh boy, I played four on the team and the poor kid. You’re Sam?? Yeah... And you know, I think they were just petrified. Just the idea of a lady or a girl, you know, playing her and So I think that upset a lot of em and I won just because.”

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