Oakland native Gloria Armstrong to be inducted into LPGA Hall of Fame

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- For Oakland native Gloria Armstrong, her road to the LPGA Hall of Fame this summer has so many layers, from player to teacher to mentor. ABC7's Mike Shumann sat down with her to share her amazing story 87 years in the making.

Armstrong was an original member of the LPGA tour in 1955. Her first round of golf was at Lake Chabot as an 11-year-old in 1941 and her first event the same year didn't go so well.

"I went to play in the state amateur and they wouldn't let me play because I didn't belong to a country club," Armstrong said.

The Ladies Club at the Alameda Course pooled together a $25 entry fee and got her in the national USGA event. "The first round of the tournament, it was match play, and I beat some girl I had never heard of named Mickey Wright," Armstrong remembered.

Her first encounter with a great golfer, Wright, became one of the best ever.

Armstrong went to Cal for a year but dropped out to get her pilot's license. She then tried the Florida tour and was down to her last $3, calling her dad who couldn't help.

"I won $162.50 and that was what really kept me out there," she said.

Armstrong then joined the 15 original members on the LPGA tour in 1955. They put on their own events, traveled together and held clinics to get more women involved in golf.

She traveled with a trailer hitched to her car as she couldn't afford hotels, playing her first pro event in Oklahoma City.

"The sponsors could never pay for the prize money for the tournament so nobody got paid," she said.

Armstrong met Karsten Solheim, who gave her one of his new clubs, and she became the first player to win an event with a Ping putter in 1960.

She played through the 1966 LPGA season and then became Davis Love's assistant, working with male and female pros including her star pupil, Pat Hurst.

Armstrong realized her passion for teaching and started a junior program at Lake Chabot for inner city kids, never charging them a dime.

This August, she will be inducted into the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Hall of Fame at 87 years of age.

Gloria Armstrong was a pioneer, teacher, mentor and now, a hall of famer.

"That's why I'm so happy. I achieved what I was trying to do," she said.

She will be inducted in August.

Click here for a full look at the latest inductees into the LPGA T&CP Hall of Fame.
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