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Mary Lou Baker, One of Utah Golf’s Greatest and Most Beloved, Passes Away at Age 96
By Joe Watts, UGA Historian
After a beautiful and peaceful rest, Mary Lou Baker, one of Utah’s greatest and most beloved woman golfers, passed away on Sunday, October 8, at the age of 96.
The Utah Golf Association mourns her loss and extends love and sympathy to her devoted family and friends.
In 2007, the Utah Golf Association, out of respect for her unusual spirit and sensitivity, created a tournament in her name, The Mary Lou Baker Open. She faithfully came to the tournament and presented the trophy for many years until her strength began to wane.
Even in her latest years, she shared her love of people and the game with hundreds of current Utah golfers, all of whom grew to admire her gentle, sweet spirit.
Her funeral will be held on Saturday, October 14, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. in the Highland View Ward, Canyon Rim Stake Center, 3051 S. 2900 E., SLC, UT. A viewing will be held prior to the services where friends and family may call beginning at 9:30 a.m. Interment to follow in the Wasatch Lawn Memorial Cemetery under the direction of Premier Funeral Services.
Mary Lou was inducted into the Utah Golf Hall of Fame in 2004, along with Mike Weir and Ernie Schneiter, Jr.
The inscription on her Hall of Fame plaque is as follows:
Mary Lou Baker
Mary Lou Thomson Baker, 83, was one of Utah's top women amateur players during the 40s and 50s. She won the Utah State Women's Amateur title six times and was runner-up three times. She becomes the fourth woman to be inducted in the Utah Golf Hall of Fame, being preceded by Helen Hofmann Bertagnole, Bev Nelson, and Marge Fillis.
Mary Lou was born on August 8, 1921 in Salt Lake City, the daughter of Bertha and Tom Thomson. As a junior player, Mary Lou Thomson was a local phenom. She grew up near the Nibley Park Golf Course and established course record scores for women at that course.
As part of her normal play activity Mary Lou's earliest recollections include having a golf club in her hand and hitting a ball across the street to a nearby vacant field when she was as young as seven or eight. At South High, although golf wasn't part of the high school sports program, she was recognized for her athletic ability in other sports and graduated in 1937.
Mary Lou started her competitive career while still in high school and at a time when the legendary Helen Hofman Bertagnole was still in her prime. She gave Bertagnole some very close battles in the finals of the Women's State Am in 1939, 1940, and 1941, but lost each time. Bertagnole then retired from competitive golf and the women's organization failed to hold the State Am in 1943 and 1944, years that 'could have been,' for Mary Lou.
The women renewed the tournament in 1945 and Mary Lou, who was now Baker instead of Thomson, promptly won the title three years in a row, in 1945, 1946, and 1947. Between giving birth to two sons she also won the title in 1950, 1952, and 1953. In addition to the Women's State Am she won all of the other major tournament events for women in the state on a regular basis.
Mary Lou became one of Utah's first women teaching professionals and for about ten years worked for Dick Kramer at Bonneville Golf Course. During that time she was instrumental in starting and supervising a junior golf program for girls. Assisting her in the successful program were Helen Hofmann, Belle Fellows, Jean Dalton, and Hazel Taylor.
She married Max Baker in 1942 and he passed away several years ago. Max was also a very popular golf figure. He was a sales representative for Hogan and was the first 'artist' of golf scoreboards in Utah. Max and Mary Lou owned and operated one of the first retail golf stores in the state. They have two children, Richard Max Baker of Orem, and Tom Baker of Salt Lake City, and seven grandchildren.
CLICK HERE to view her legacy.com obituary.