Two current members of the International Network of Golf and one former host of the ING Spring Conference were among five people inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame today. The ceremony took place at Sunset Center in Carmel-By-The-Sea in conjunction with the 2019 U.S. Open taking place this week at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
ING members Jan Stephenson and Dennis Walters, and former host to the ING Spring Conference Peggy Kirk Bell from Pine Needles/Mid Pines Resort, joined Retief Goosen and Billy Payne in entering the Hall of Fame, bringing the total number of World Golf Hall of Fame members to 160.
Dennis was introduced by Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, and touched the crowd with a speech centered around his ability to overcome heartbreak to build a career that entertained and inspired.
After an accident left him paralyzed from the waste down and ending a promising pro golf career, Dennis dedicated his career to sharing life lessons and inspiring fans and disabled golfers of all ages through golf clinics and special performances at more than 3,000 worldwide appearances. Former spokesperson and national ambassador for The First Tee, his message is to always continue hoping and dreaming. He is one of only 11 honorary lifetime members of the PGA of America. He was the first recipient of the ING Dennis Walters Courage Award, which is given to a person who has overcome greats odds to contribute to the game of golf.
Dennis closed his speech by borrowing from the famous Lou Gehrig speech: “I may have had a bad break, but I consider myself the luckiest man alive.”
In her first season on the LPGA Tour in 1974, Jan Stephenson was named LPGA’s Rookie of the Year in 1974, kicking off an impressive career, which included 20 professional victories, 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. Her impact on the game extends outside of her play as one of the founders of the Women’s Senior Golf Tour.
She is involved with golf course design and has made many charitable contributions including being an honorary chair of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stephenson was also honored with the Order of Australia Medal in 2018 for her contributions to the game of golf. She recently became the inaugural winner of the ING Jan Stephenson Entrepreneur Award, presented at the 29th ING Spring Conference in Sebring, FL.
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. She was an active participant in the three ING Spring Conferences held at Mid Pines/Pine Needles Resort in 1998, 2000 and 2002.