Summer 2018

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Decades before this year's U.S. Girls' Junior Championship at Poppy Hills, Helen Lengfeld of Monterey County dished out lucky pennies by the handful to contestants at the junior girls' and women's championships she founded, and was a dynamic figure who left her mark on golf in North- ern California and beyond. BY ALEX HULANICKI n the first tee of the California junior girls' and women's golf championships in the 1970s, both of which she founded, Helen Lengfeld always had a big smile as she handed out scorecards and "lucky" pennies to players. LPGA veterans Laura Baugh, Amy Alcott, Nancy Lopez and Juli Inkster recalled those pennies every time they banked prize money in much larger denominations. "There are a lot of people who owe their careers to Helen Lengfeld," said Alcott, noting that these competitions gave so many young golfers oppor- tunities to play courses the likes of Pebble Beach Golf Links and Monterey Peninsula Country Club. At 91, Shirley Spork is one of the last living founders of the LPGA Tour and she called Lengfeld the godmother of women's professional golf. Spork played on the Weathervane Professional Women's Tour, a precursor to the LPGA that ran from 1950- 53 and featured such players as Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs and Patty Berg. Lengfeld, who was inducted into the NCGA Hall of Fame in 2016, had created the tour by persuading Alan Handmacher of Weathervane Clothing to sponsor a series of events in all four corners of the country. The West Coast stop was at Pebble Beach thanks to Lengfeld's friendship with Del Monte Properties President Samuel F.B. Morse Jr. Ever the philanthropist, Lengfeld pro- moted the tournaments as fundraisers for the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.

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