Jay Sigel, one of the most decorated amateur golfers in U.S. history, has been named recipient of the ING’s Dennis Walters Courage Award.
The presentation will be made at the 24th Annual ING Spring Conference June 1-4 at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City.
The Dennis Walters Courage Award goes to an individual who has overcome great odds to play, and contribute to, the game of golf.
The award is named after Dennis Walters, a professional golfer paralyzed from the waist down after a golf cart accident who has since become one of the leading trick shot performers in golf.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Sigel was a dominant amateur golfer worldwide. He compiled victories in the U.S. Amateur, British Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur, competed on nine Walker Cup teams, and won numerous other amateur titles. In 1983, he became the only golfer ever to win the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur in the same year. He was the low amateur in two U.S. Opens and four Masters.
Sigel’s amateur golf career was almost ended by a freak accident in 1963 while a sophomore at Wake Forest. He had been named to the All-American as a freshman.
“I was trying to hold open a dormitory door for a fraternity brother,” Sigel said, “and my hand went through the glass. It ruptured the ulnar nerve, which is the crazy bone nerve.”
The injury left him with 65-percent strength in his right hand, and forced him to make some swing changes so he could continue to play the game. One of the main changes was lessening the grip pressure in his right hand.
The accident also changed his career path. Sigel had been targeting the PGA Tour, but decided instead on a career in insurance, while competing at the highest levels of amateur golf.
His dream of playing professional golf finally came true at the age of 50, when he joined the Senior PGA Tour in 1994, Accolades include Rookie of the Year honors, eight tour victories and career earnings of over $9 million.
As for giving back, Sigel has done far more than his share.
He sits on the Corporate Advisory Board for the American Cancer Society, and is the president of the Greater Philadelphia Scholastic Golf Association and the First Tee of Philadelphia chapter. He hosts the Annual Jay Sigel Invitational Golf Tournament at his home course, Aronimink Golf Club. The proceeds from this tournament benefit prostate cancer research at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sigel has three daughters and currently resides in Berwyn, PA, with wife Betty.