This week marked a historic moment as golf legend Kathy Whitworth was posthumously inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame. Widely celebrated for her remarkable career and indelible impact on the sport, Whitworth's entry into this prestigious hall of fame is a testament to her unparalleled contributions to the world of golf.
With an illustrious career spanning several decades, Kathy Whitworth not only amassed an impressive 88 LPGA Tour victories but also demonstrated unwavering dedication, sportsmanship, and a pioneering spirit that transcended gender barriers in the world of professional golf. Her induction into the PGA of America Hall of Fame solidifies her legacy as a trailblazer, inspiring generations of golfers and leaving an enduring mark on the rich tapestry of the sport.
Below is the press release from the PGA of America regarding this recognition! Click here to watch the video honoring Kathy Whitworth.
(Pictured Above: Bettye Odle receiving the plaque in honor of Kathy Whitworth.)
Frisco, Texas (Nov. 9, 2023) - The PGA of America hosted its biennial Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Omni PGA Frisco Resort Wednesday night during the 107th PGA Annual Meeting, recognizing six highly influential individuals whose impact on the game of golf will resonate for years to come.
Emceed by CBS Sports Reporter Amanda Renner, the evening celebrated the 2023 PGA of America Hall of Fame Class: PGA Members Robert Dolan, Don Wegrzyn, Herb Wimberly; PGA Past President Suzy Whaley; LPGA Legend Kathy Whitworth; and CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz.
The PGA of America Hall of Fame originated in 1940 at the suggestion of famed sportswriter Grantland Rice to honor and recognize individuals who through their lives, careers, service and support have made significant and enduring contributions to the PGA of America in its mission to grow the game of golf. It is the highest honor that the PGA of America can bestow upon its membership and ambassadors of the game.
“It’s a privilege tonight to welcome this incredible group of PGA Members and Ambassadors into the PGA of America Hall of Fame,” said PGA of America President John Lindert, PGA Director of Golf at The Country Club of Lansing in Lansing, Michigan. “One of the things you get to do as President of the Association is call the inductees and let them know they’ve been inducted into the PGA of America Hall of fame. That’s a pretty special moment. Tonight we celebrate legends of the game, an iconic voice of our industry and highly accomplished PGA of America Golf Professionals who have made an impact on our profession and those who love this game.”
The 2023 PGA of America Hall of Fame Inductees fall under four induction categories: PGA of America Golf Professional Category (Dolan, Wegrzyn, Wimberly); PGA of America Past President Category (Whaley); Tour Player Professional Category (Whitworth); and PGA of America Ambassador Category (Nantz).
Kathy Whitworth, LPGA, who was honored posthumously, holds one of the most famous records in golf: 88 victories over a span of 23 years. Throughout her career, she was always a friend to the PGA of America and PGA of America Golf Professionals. In 2006, she was named the PGA of America’s First Lady of Golf, and in 2023 was given an honorary membership to the Northern Texas PGA Section.
“When the phone call came, I went silent and I grinned,” said Whitworth’s longtime partner Bettye Odle. “I said, ‘Well Kathy Whit, this is the icing on the cake.’ That’s exactly what she would have said. My wish for all of us is that Kathy was sitting here right now, she would be so honored and would have loved to share this with all of you.”
Herb Wimberly, PGA, coached the New Mexico State University golf team for over three decades and was instrumental in the creation of the Professional Golf Management Program at NMSU. He was incredibly dedicated to the PGA of America throughout his career, becoming the first person to serve as President for two different PGA Sections, the Southwest Section and the Sun Country Section.
“He has a love for the game of golf, but he loves people. He has an attitude that is always positive,” said Bert Wimberly, who spoke on behalf of his father during the ceremony. “He was never about himself, he’s the most humble person you’ll ever meet in your life. For dad to be acknowledged for all of his accomplishments is a great honor.”
Don Wegrzyn, PGA, started his career in golf as a caddie in 1947 at the Onwentsia Club. He began working at the Old Elm Club in 1952, where he advanced from front door attendant to interim General Manager and Director of Golf in the 47 years he spent there. A PGA Member since 1962, Wegrzyn became a PGA Master Professional in 1994. He was voted Illinois PGA Professional of the Year in 1980, was elected to the Northern Illinois University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 1999 and received The First Tee Leadership Award in 2004.
“One of the things that I have realized in this ceremony, and in the decades that have passed, I have someone representing nearly every decade, keeping me invited in the game of golf,” said Wegrzyn. “Some place along the line, I realized that I have always had a passion for golf and always wanted to give back to the community where I came from.”
Robert Dolan, PGA, has been recognized both locally and nationally for his outstanding service to the game, winning six awards in the Middle Atlantic PGA Section level and two national PGA of America awards. For 28 years, Dolan served as only the third Head Professional of Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland, following in the footsteps of Fred Mcleod and Dolan’s mentor Bill “Coach” Strausbaugh. He is known for his passion for junior golf and helping his fellow PGA of America Professionals with career development.
“When I was just getting started in my career, we were educated on the importance of ‘wearing all the hats’ as a PGA Professional,” said Dolan, a recipient of the PGA of America National Youth Player Development Award in 2000 and the National Bill Strausbaugh Award in 2011. “All I ever tried to do was be the best I could in each one of those categories within our industry.”
Jim Nantz, a member of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame and the youngest to ever be inducted into both the Pro Football and Naismith Memorial Basketball Halls of Fame, is a three-time Emmy Award winner and five-time National Sportscaster of the Year since joining CBS in 1985. In 2019 and 2021, Nantz completed an even rarer quintet, calling the AFC Championship, Super Bowl, Final Four, Masters and PGA Championship in a span of 120 days.
“I’m blown away by this,” said Nantz. “I always try to represent all the PGA Professionals the best way I can because I know what they do, and the difference they make in the game. This incredible organization of 29,000 Professionals, who serve our game in such a beautiful fashion everyday, they don’t get enough credit. Bottom line is that I’m in awe of all of you.”
PGA of America Past President and Master Professional Suzy Whaley is the President of Golf Nation, one of GOLF’s “Top 100 Teachers in America” and a commentator for ESPN. After serving two-year terms as both PGA Secretary and PGA Vice President, Whaley became the first woman elected to serve as PGA President in 2018. She steered the Association through the onset of the global pandemic, leading to the establishment of the nearly $8 million Golf Emergency Relief Fund for golf industry personnel in need and an unprecedented growth in rounds played, using social distancing protocols established in conjunction with the CDC and Back2Golf.
“I have a chance everyday to change somebody’s life, and I get to do it through a game I love,” said Whaley. “Being a PGA Professional has given me opportunities that I could have never imagined. I think the PGA of America has helped me step out of my comfort zone and showcase myself to take on some risk and inspire young women everywhere. There are so many in this room that have helped me in my career, mentored me and have been my role model, so, thank you.”