Tributes have been made to Marlene Hagge-Vossler, the youngest founder of the Ladies Professional Golf Association after her death aged 89 ©LPGA

Marlene Hagge-Vossler, the youngest founder of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), who died aged 89 after a fall, has been lauded by LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan "for her contributions to the LPGA, women’s golf and women’s sports at large."

Paying tribute Samaan said: "Marlene will be missed dearly, but I can guarantee she’ll never be forgotten.

"She was an impressive athlete, a fiery competitor and at a young age showed women and girls that they could achieve greatness in all areas of life.  

"She will remembered for both her talent and her longevity, competing in each of the LPGA Tour’s first five decades." 

Marlene Bauer was only 16 years old when she and a dozen other women, including her older sister Alice, founded the LPGA in 1950.

But as Marlene Hagge-Vossler, she went on to win 26 titles, including the 1956 Women’s PGA Championship, and was one of the public relations faces of the nascent Tour throughout a remarkable 40-year career.

Hagge-Vossler was a teen sensation well before they were commonplace in women’s golf. 

Her father, Dave, a one-time touring pro who became a teaching pro and moved to Long Beach, California, to run a driving range, put on travelling exhibitions in the mid-1940s billing his girls as "the Bauer sisters." They were well known before the LPGA even existed.

Marlene, who died in Rancho Mirage, California, and her sister Alice, who died in 2002, were dubbed the first "glamour girls of the LPGA" in newspaper reports,

After taking up the game aged three, Marlene won the Long Beach City Boys Junior title aged 10.

Marlene Hagge-Vossler, was one of women's golf's first
Marlene Hagge-Vossler, was one of women's golf's first "glamour girls", alongside her sister Alice ©LPGA

In 1947, at 13, she won the Western and National Junior Championships, the Los Angeles Women's City Championship, the Palm Springs Women's Championship, Northern California Open and became the youngest player to make the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open, finishing eighth.

In 1949, at 15, she became the youngest named Female Athlete of the Year by The Associated Press after winning the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship and the WWGA Junior.

Hagge-Vossler’s first LPGA victory was the 1952 Sarasota Open.

In 1956, she had one of the best years in Tour history, leading with eight wins, finishing second nine other times and topping the money list with a record $20,235 (£16,250/€18,700).

She also set scoring records for 36, 54 and 72 holes as well as picking up a major at the LPGA Championship, now the KPMG Women’s PGA.

The 1957 LPGA media guide, which featured Hagge on the cover, said: "This brilliant golf prodigy set officials back on their heels, when at the age of 13 she won the Los Angeles Women’s Golf Championship on a course where the sign stated 'children under 14 are not allowed.'"

Speaking to Liz Kahn for her book on the LPGA, Hagge-Vossler said: "There were not any junior programmes when I was growing up, and girls generally were not very athletic at that time, so I played my golf with men or with older boys on golf teams."

She married Bob Hagge in 1955, shortly after he was divorced from Alice.

They divorced in 1964 and she was married to former PGA Tour pro player Ernie Vossler from 1995 until his death in 2013.

"The only reason I was able to be out on tour and remain sane for more than 40 years is because golf has never been number one," Hagge-Vossler said.

"If I’d eaten, drank and slept golf I’d be a burned-out shell.

"I like to cook, I like to sew and do all the things normal people do."

 In 2002, Marlene entered the World Golf Hall of Fame.