LPGA Hall of Famer & Philanthropist
Picking up her first golf club at age 8, Betsy King wasn’t phased by playing golf with all boys. With the mindset, “I need to be the best that God created me to be,” Betsy’s perseverance and determination fueled her to become one of the LPGA’s best golfers. With 34 tournament wins, Betsy qualified for the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fames. In 2007, Betsy founded Golf Fore Africa, a non-profit organization, to bring clean water to children and their families living in extreme poverty in Africa.
Tell me about your family and where were you raised?
I was raised outside of Reading, Pennsylvania. My parents were part of that greatest generation and grew up in the Depression. My father worked from the age of 8 on. He was born in Canada, but his family moved to the U.S. when he was 5. My grandparents were Polish immigrants. I believe his father was a tailor. I never knew my grandfather. He passed away before I was born. My grandmother was a teacher, and my mother’s father was a baker. But both of my parents went to college. Education was very important to them. My parents have known each other for 70 years and have been married for over 60 years. They started dating in Junior High. My dad left college and served in the Canadian Air Force in World War II. He then came back, finished college and went on to medical school and was a physician. My parents insisted that my brother and I go to college. My dad wanted me to be a doctor, but I did not have the skill or the interest in medicine. My brother was in and out of medical school but ended up going to law school and getting his degree. He lives in Stuart, Florida, and even though he has a law degree, he owns and runs a couple of funeral homes. I also have two nephews. Overall, I have a relatively small family.
When did you first pick up a golf club?
I was about 8 years old. I grew up a typical tomboy probably because of having an older brother. When he would go outside, my parents would tell him, “Take your sister with you.” I ended up playing sports with all the boys: tackle football, basketball and baseball. Then we started taking golf lessons together at the Reading Country Club. I was most fortunate because there were other kids to play with. It was all boys at first, which probably was better because I learned to hit the golf ball hard. When I was a teenager, there were some other girls that I played with, but initially, it was just the boys and me.
From the onset, did you have an aptitude for golf?
I was pretty athletic. It’s interesting because both my parents were gifted athletically. My father went to college on a football scholarship. My mother is in the University of Rhode Island Sports Hall of Fame for playing field hockey, basketball and tennis. My parents were very much into sports, and they introduced my brother and me to that as well. In the morning, the first part of the paper I would read would be the sports section. I loved playing sports, and they were natural to me. I played three sports in high school and was All-County in all three: field hockey, basketball and softball.