Editor’s note: This story was published by The St. Augustine Record on May 8, 2012.
Creativity is the common bond linking the five newest members of the World Golf Hall of Fame – on the golf course, behind a microphone and pounding the keys of a battered manual typewriter.
And, as master of ceremonies and NBC golf anchor Dan Hicks noted, healthy doses of “their commitment and passion and talent.”
Skill and daring on the golf course and the way their stories and countless other stories were told was celebrated May 7, 20in the World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, in front of a sold-out audience at the St. Johns County Convention Center.
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Phil Mickelson, Sandy Lyle and Hollis Stacy, winners of a combined 10 major championships, sportswriter Dan Jenkins and veteran BBC broadcaster Peter Alliss – who was a good enough player to make eight Ryder Cup teams – swelled the Hall membership to 141 members, and 70 in the modern era of the Hall of Fame and Museum.
The three entering the Hall of Fame based on their playing careers were known – and Mickelson remains known – for their elegance on the golf course from a short-game standpoint, and their ability to win on different courses, requiring multiple skills.
Mickelson becomes the second left-handed player in the Hall of Fame and was an easy first-ballot selection at the age of 41 with four major titles and 40 PGA Tour victories to his credit. He won the first Players to be contended in May in 2007 and on Thursday will make his 19th start at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course when the 38th Players begins.
Mickelson has also come to be one of the fans’ favorites over the balance of his career, and has thrown himself into numerous charitable concerns, notably for the military and education. He has done all that while at the same time raising a family and helping his wife Amy and his mother Mary through their concurrent battles with cancer.
Mickelson’s college coach at Arizona State and agent Steve Loy said: “As fans, friends and family, we have been blessed to share Phil’s career for many years.”
After thanking his wife, children, family and inner circle such as Loy and caddy Bones McKay, Mickelson made it clear his career would not stop with the current record that got him into the Hall of Fame.
“We’re still working on some more,” he said. “Starting with this week, and one next month (the US Open).”
Mickelson also thanked fellow players, the media and the fans.
“This great game, we are all in this together,” he said. “Thank you (to other players) for competing against me, and thanks to the media for telling the story and being a part of the journey. This has been so much fun. Since I first picked up a golf club, I have been living my dream. “
Lyle was the first native of Great Britain to win the Masters and the first international winner of The Players 25 years ago when he defeated Jeff Sluman in a sudden-death playoff. A native of Scotland who maintains a part-time residence in Ponte Vedra Beach, the easy-going and personable Lyle won 29 worldwide tournaments and played for Europe on five Ryder Cup teams.
“He has not changed a great deal over the years,” said broadcaster Renton Laidlaw, who introduced Lyle. “He’s likeable, consider, easy-going … all good Scottish traits. Fame hasn’t changed him one bit.”
Lyle humbly said, “The Hall of Fame … a great honor. I can’t say enough words about it.”
Stacy was a three-time US Women’s Open champion and won six USGA national titles in all during an LPGA career. She remains the only woman to win three USGA events in a row, the junior girls from 1969-71.
Martha Leach, one of Stacy’s nine siblings, said her family’s pride in her runs deeper than golf accomplishments.
“I’m extremely proud of Hollis, not so much for winning so many tournaments and being in the Hall of Fame but proud that she’s such a great sister,” said Leach in introducing her.
Stacy said her entry into the Hall of Fame was “such a thrill,” and she credited the opportunties she had in professional golf to the founding members of the LPGA, one of whom, Louise Suggs, was among the Hall of Fame members in attendance .
“I am here because 13 courageous women had a dream,” she said of Suggs and other founding members of the women’s tour. “I an indebted to those women.”
While the Induction Ceremony celebrated those three players, it also honored two men who told numerous stories about the exploits of numerous Hall of Fame members through the written and spoken word.
Jenkins, regarded as one of America’s premier sportswriters, began his golf writing career at the daily newspaper in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, covering two other Fort Worth legends, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. He later wrote for Sports Illustrated and still covers major championships for Golf Digest.
“How could anybody get it so right, so fast, so good?” asked Jenkins’ editor at Golf Digest, Jerry Tarde, who introduced Jenkins. “He is golf’s most influential writer.”
Next month at the US Open in San Francisco, Jenkins will cover his 211th major. He covered his first of him at the 1951 US Open.
Jenkins observed in his own inimitable fashion that he is the third writer to enter the Hall of Fame and the first under certain circumstances.
“I’m delighted and overwhelmed and pleased and all those things to be taken into this society … especially as a vertical human,” he said.
Jenkins took tremendous pride in his Texas roots and goes into the Hall of Fame on the 100th anniversary of the birth of three men he covered and knew personally, Hogan, Nelson and Snead.
Alliss won the national championships of Italy, Spain and Portugal in successive weeks, captured 20 other worldwide events, made every Ryder Cup team but one between 1953-1969 and represented England in the World Cup 10 times.
But while still at the peak of his playing skills in 1961, Allis began working for the BBC. His first tournament di lui as a broadcaster was the 1961 Open Championship won by Arnold Palmer at Royal Birkdale and to this day, his understated and graceful commentary makes him a favorite among golf viewers and is known as “The Voice of Golf” in Europe. Alliss has been the voice of the BBC and ABC for 190 major championships.
He also has designed 50 golf courses, authored more than 20 golf books and taught – including golf lessons to Sean Connery to get the actor ready for his famed match as Jams Bond against the villain in the movie “Goldfinger.”
Alliss becomes the first broadcaster to enter the World Golf Hall of Fame.