The World Golf Hall of Fame: St. Augustine, Florida
As many of my readers know, I, a mermaid from Montauk, love the ocean, while my husband, a mountain man from West Virginia, loves golf. Montauk is home to an excellent public golf course, Montauk Downs, but our winters can be challenging—So we escape during the winter month to Florida, and both get to enjoy what we like best, beach and golf.
I have to admit that I couldn’t care less about spending a whole day at the World Golf Hall of Fame (WGHoF), unless there’s something more exciting going on, like, meeting the WGHoF Class of 2019 inductees. Retief Goosen, Billy Payne, Jan Stephenson and Dennis Walters will officially join the ranks of the WGHoF this June, as well as the late Peggy Kirk Bell. These five new members will be enshrined at the WGHoF Induction Ceremony at the Men’s U.S. Open Championship being held in Pebble Beach California but would meet for the first time while we were practically in the neighborhood.–
Our dear friends, Dick and Joy, were visiting us for a couple of days in Palm Coast, both avid golfers and they were just as excited about the event as my husband. The WGHoF was originally located in Pinehurst, NC, when it was privately operated by Diamondhead Corp., then owners of the Pinehurst Resort, where my husband used to live.
We arrived early at the World Golf Village, located north of St. Augustine on Florida’s northeastern coastline. The mission of the WGHoF is to preserve and honor the history of the game of golf and the legacies of those who have made it great. The WGHoF Museum serves as a steward of the game through engaging, interactive storytelling and exhibitions featuring artifacts, works of art, audio, video and photography significant to the history of golf and its members. It features a permanent exhibition and a rolling program of temporary exhibitions. As we had some spare time to enjoy before the event we decided to watch ‘Under the Sea’ at the adjourning IMAX Theater, definitely feeding more into my passion for the beach and the ocean than golf.
We all attended the official opening called “Road to Induction” of the WGHoF Class of 2019, thereby meeting all the celebrities personally, and it became nevertheless inspirational, even for a non-golfer like me.
“The 2019 Induction Class is one of the most well-rounded groups we’ve had to date,” said Jack Peter, President of the WGHoF when he started his introduction of the man to his right, Billy Payne, bestowing on him the award for United States, Lifetime Achievement. During his 11 years as Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club from 2006 to 2017, William Porter “Billy” Payne oversaw a number of significant achievements including the introduction of female members into the club’s membership. He originated the Drive, Chip and Putt National Championship with the USGA and PGA of America and established the Asia-Pacific Amateur and Latin America Amateur tournaments, each offering guaranteed Masters’ spots to the winners. Named the GWAA’s William D. Richardson Award recipient, Payne also received the Olympic Order after serving as president and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic games from 1992 to ‘96. Continuing his legacy and involvement with the Olympics, Payne was a key figure in the successful return of golf to the 2016 games.
Retief Goosen, of South Africa, was selected to win the Male Competitor Category. “The Goose,” is known for his extremely calm demeanor, a trait that has earned him also the nickname “The Iceman” on the PGA Tour. Goosen’s mother attributes her son’s calm demeanor to the effects left on Goosen after he was struck by lightning. Retief Goosen sat within the Official World Golf Rankings top 10 for more than 250 weeks from 2001 through 2007. His 33 worldwide wins include two U.S. Open Championships in 2001, the same year he was named European Tour Player of the Year. Goosen is also known for his interest and business in wine. He owns his own vineyard in Garden Route, South Africa and labeled his wine “The Goose”.
Jan Stephenson, of Australia, won the Female Competitor Category. In her first season on the LPGA Tour in 1974, Jan Stephenson was named LPGA’s Rookie of the Year. She went on to lead an impressive career with 20 professional victories, including 16 on the LPGA Tour. She is a three-time Major Champion with wins at the 1981 du Maurier, 1982 LPGA Championship and the 1983 U.S. Women’s Open. Stephenson was also honored with the Order of Australia Medal in 2018 for her contributions to the game of golf. Jan Stephenson ruffled some feathers in the golf world back in the 1980s when she posed for a photo in a bathtub full of golf balls. But ultimately the snap brought a lot of attention both to Stephenson and the women’s game and was one of 13 women featured in the 2017 edition of GOLF.com’s Most Beautiful Women in Golf. And so it’s no surprise that Jan Stephenson caught the attention of a very young Donald J. Trump about 40 years ago… She turned him down.
Dennis Walters, United States, Lifetime Achievement Category. I was especially inspired meeting Mr. Walters, who was an elite golfer, but was paralyzed from the waist-down at the age of 24 following a golf cart accident. He has since then dedicated his career to sharing life lessons and is inspiring fans and disabled golfers of all ages through golf clinics and special performances at more than 3,000 appearances worldwide. “When people look at my career, I’d like them to remember that I had a good spirit and I wasn’t going to give up, I’m hoping that’s contagious.” He said. He’s also one of 11 honorary lifetime PGA of America members.
And last but not least the late Peggy Kirk Bell, chosen to win the United States, Lifetime Achievement Category. Margaret Anne “Peggy” Kirk Bell took up the game as a teenager, making a name for herself as an amateur star. She went on to become a charter member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1950 after winning the 1949 Titleholders Championship and participating on the winning 1950 Curtis Cup team. She received the PGA of America’s First Lady of Golf Award in 2007 and was an avid supporter of the game as a top 100 golf instructor, becoming the first woman selected into Golf Magazine’s World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame.
These five Inductees will bring the total number of World Golf Hall of Fame Members to 160. The Induction Ceremony for the World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2019 will take place on Monday, June 10, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California, the week of the Men’s U.S. Open. The Ceremony will be held at the Sunset Center in Carmel-By-The-Sea. For more information on the Induction Ceremony process, visit www.worldgolfhalloffame.org .
Until next month from another interesting location.
~ Love, Ingrid