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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Susie Maxwell Berning, center, with Tommy McDonald and Steve Owens
(2012.201.B0246.0202, by J. Beckel, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).


Professional golfer Susie Maxwell was born on July 22, 1941, in Pasadena, California. After moving to Oklahoma City, she took up golf at age fifteen, learning the game from Professional Golf Association (PGA) member U. C. Ferguson at Lincoln Park. She immediately won three consecutive Oklahoma State High School championships and became the first woman to receive a golf scholarship at Oklahoma City University, playing on the men's golf team (coached by Abe Lemons) and graduating with a business degree.

Maxwell captured three consecutive Oklahoma City Women's Amateur Championships from 1959 to 1961. In 1963 she also captured the Oklahoma Women's Amateur. She turned professional in 1964 and was voted Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Rookie of the Year. Between 1965 and 1976 she competed under her married name of Susie Berning, winning eleven times on the LPGA Tour and being named the association's most improved player in 1967. Her first victory, the 1965 Muskogee Civitan Open, was followed by her first major championship, the 1965 Women's Western Open. In 1973 she captured her third U.S. Women's Open, becoming only the third player in golf history to win three times at the prestigious event.

Berning is a member of the Oklahoma City University Sports Hall of Fame, the National Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the Nevada Sports Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. After joining the Nicklaus/Flick Golf School Division in 1998, she was recognized by the LPGA as one of the association's top fifty players and teachers. The Susie Maxwell Berning All-College Classic is hosted each year in Oklahoma in her honor.

Del Lemon

Learn More

Ladies Professional Golfers Association Media Guide (Daytona Beach, Fla.: Ladies Professional Golf Association, 2002).

Del Lemon, The Story of Golf in Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Del Lemon, “Berning, Susie Maxwell,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=BE023.

Published January 15, 2010

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