Acknowledgement: Thanks to Betsy Rawls for some of her recollections about her UT years and career.
Elizabeth Earle “Betsy” Rawls was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina on May 4, 1928 to Robert Miller and Mary Earle Rawls. Robert, born in Indiana, owned a fruit grove, however by 1940 he was the superintendent of a CCC camp in Burnet, Texas. Betsy had an older brother, Robert Miller Rawls Jr (1926–1992). During the war, the family moved to Arlington, Texas where Robert worked as an engineer in the aircraft manufacturing industry.
Betsy attended Lovelady High School in Lovelady, Texas. Betsy enrolled in North Texas Agricultural College in Arlington, Texas in 1946 as a physics major, and though a freshman, she was recognized in the yearbook for her athletic ability and her academic achievements. The following entry from the yearbook was a result of her selection by faculty members and department heads for the title “Who’s Who” in Physics. She was also selected for Phi Kappa Theta, an honor society which required a minimum of 15 hours each semester and a grade average above 89%.
In 1947, Betsy enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin as a physics student and graduated in 1950. She had started o play golf at the age of 17. She won the Texas Amateur in 1949 and 1950. She also won the 1949 Trans-National and the 1950 Broadmoor Invitational. In 1950, she finished second at the U. S. Women’s Open as an amateur. Despite practicing every day, Betsy said she somehow found time to get her homework done and complete her laboratory assignments. Her love and talent for golf led her to pursue golf over physics.
Following graduation, Betsy was invited by Wilson Sporting Company to represent their golfing program. Rawls turned professional in 1951 and joined the LPGA Tour. She won her first tournament that year at the Sacramento Women’s Invitational Open. She would go on to win a total of 55 events on the LPGA Tour, including eight major championships. In 1959, she earned the LPGA Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. She was the tour's leading money winner in 1952 and 1959 and finished in the top ten on the money list a total of nine times. She led the tour in wins three times, 1952 with eight, 1957 with five (tied with Patty Berg), and 1959 with ten. When not playing Rawls toured the country by car with Patty Berg, conducting up to 120 golf clinics a year for Wilson Sporting.
Rawls was the LPGA's president from 1961 to 1962. In 1967, when the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame was created, she was one of the six inaugural inductees. The LPGA recognized her induction year into the Hall of Fame of Women’s Golf, 1960, as her official induction year into the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame and the World Golf Hall of Fame. Following her retirement from tournament play in 1975, she became a tournament director for the LPGA Tour. In 1996, she was voted the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Delaware Women in 2006.
The Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational is an NCAA golf tournament played in Austin, Texas, every year and hosted by the University of Texas women's golf team.
Elizabeth Earle "Betsy" Rawls Photo and Document Album