Elizabeth Helen Dettweiler (December 5, 1914 – November 13, 1990) was an American professional golfer. She was one of the co-founders of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. She won the Women's Western Open in 1939.[1]

Helen Dettweiler
Dettweiler tees off at Palm Beach in 1937
Personal information
Full nameElizabeth Helen Dettweiler
Born(1914-12-05)December 5, 1914
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedNovember 13, 1990(1990-11-13) (aged 75)
Palm Springs, California, U.S.
Sporting nationality United States
CollegeTrinity College
Turned professional1939
Former tour(s)LPGA Tour (Founder)
Best results in LPGA major championships
(wins: 1)
Western OpenWon: 1939
Titleholders C'ship2nd: 1940
U.S. Women's Open4th: 1950
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame2024 (member page)



Dettweiler was born to Helen (nee Berens) and William E. Dettweiler, a restaurant and bakery owner, on December 5, 1914, in Washington, D.C. She had two younger brothers, and all three Dettweiler children played sports, with Helen playing tennis, football, baseball, and softball.[2] Her brother Billy, who qualified for the National Amateur Golf Championship at age 14, got her into golf when he bet her that she could not hit a golf ball four consecutive times, and she lost.[3] Within two years of beginning to play golf, she began to win amateur championships.[2] After graduating from Trinity College, Dettweiler began traveling to play in amateur golf tournaments.[2]

Dettweiler became friends with Clark Griffith, the owner of the Washington Senators of Major League Baseball. During a round of golf, she told him of her interest in being a baseball broadcaster, which led Griffith to connect her with Arch McDonald.[4][5] She toured as a guest announcer in Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball in 1938, becoming the first female baseball broadcaster.[2][4][5]

Dettweiler continued to play golf during the broadcasting tour.[6] She won the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Mid Atlantic championships.[7] In 1939, Dettweiler turned professional. She won the 1939 Women's Western Open,[3] and finished in second in the 1940 Titleholders Championship.[8]

During World War II, Dettweiler joined the United States Army Air Forces' Air Transport Command as a cryptographer.[9] In 1943, she joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP),[2] and was one of 17 women selected to pilot the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress,[10] recording 750 flying hours. Dettweiler became Jacqueline Cochran's assistant. After the war, she went with Cochran to Indio, California, to write a book on the history of the WASP. There, she designed a nine-hole course that later became a part of the Indian Palms Country Club. As the golf pro, she instructed Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Danny Kaye, and others.[2][3] She also trained Beverly Hanson.[7]

Dettweiler co-founded the Women's Professional Golf Association (WPGA) in the 1940s, and was elected as its second president. After the WPGA folded,[2] she was one of 13 founders of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) in 1950.[11][12] In 1952, she joined the staff of the Thunderbird Country Club.[13] She also taught at a golf course in Neskowin, Oregon,[14] and organized an invitational tournament there.[15]

Dettweiler remained on the LPGA Tour until the 1960s. After her retirement, she opened a clothing store in Palm Springs, California. Dettweiler died from cancer on November 13, 1990, in Palm Springs.[9]

Major championships


Wins (1)

Year Championship Winning score Runner-up Ref
1939 Women's Western Open 4 & 3   Bea Barrett (a) [16]


  1. ^ Glenn, Rhonda (March 2010). "Lest We Forget: Helen Dettweiler in World War II". USGA. Archived from the original on May 11, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Corbett, Warren. "Helen Dettweiler". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Byrod, Fred (June 11, 1952). "Lost Soda Spur to Stardom For Golf's Miss Dettweiler". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pennsylvania. p. 49. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ a b "Girl will give sports report". The Minneapolis Sunday Tribune. Minnesota. September 4, 1938. p. 9. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b Doran, Dorothy (July 28, 1938). "Femme Sports Announcer Got Baseball Training As Sandlot Player". The Akron Beacon Journal. Ohio. p. 9. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ McCallum, Walter (July 4, 1938). "Radio Won't End D.C. Girl's[sic] Golf". Evening Star. Washington D.C. p. A11. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ a b "Helen Dettweiler To Hold Golf Clinic Here Tuesday". Medford Mail Tribune. Oregon. August 17, 1952. p. 3. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Mrs. Harb Wins Titleholders' Golf Tourney". Chicago Daily Tribune. Illinois. Associated Press. January 19, 1940. p. 23. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ a b "Helen Dettweiler, pro golfer, World War II flier, dies at 74". The Desert Sun. Palm Springs, California. November 15, 1990. p. 4. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "LPGA founders". The Palm Beach Post. Florida. January 9, 2000. p. 10C. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "History of Women's Golf in America – From Amateur to Professional". Archived from the original on June 15, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2008.
  12. ^ "About the LPGA – Our Founders". LPGA.
  13. ^ "Helen Dettweiler at Thunderbird". The Desert Sun. Palm Springs, California. March 27, 1952. p. 12. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ Strite, Dick (September 13, 1959). "Highclimber". The Eugene Guard. Oregon. p. 1B. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ Strite, Dick (May 24, 1962). "Highclimber". The Eugene Guard. Oregon. p. 1D. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "Helen Dettweiler Beats Bea Barrett in Western, 4 and 3". The Minneapolis Tribune. Minnesota. June 18, 1939. p. Sports–1. Retrieved February 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.