Editor’s note: This story was published by The St. Augustine Record on May 8, 2012.
Creativity is the common bond that unites the five new members of the World Golf Hall of Fame – on the golf course, behind a microphone and hammering the keys of a dented manual typewriter.
And, as NBC emcee and golf anchor Dan Hicks noted, healthy doses of “their commitment, passion and talent.”
Skill and daring on the golf course and the way their stories and countless other stories have been told was celebrated May 7, 20 at the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony, before a sold-out audience at the St. Johns County Convention Center.
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Phil Mickelson, Sandy Lyle and Hollis Stacy, combined winners of 10 major championships, sportswriter Dan Jenkins and veteran BBC broadcaster Peter Alliss – who was a player good enough to make eight Ryder Cup teams – passed on the Hall to 141 members and 70 in the modern era of the Hall of Fame and Museum.
The three Hall of Fame entrants based on their playing careers were known – and Mickelson remains known – for their elegance on the golf course from a short game perspective 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-round selection at the age of 41 with four major titles and 40 PGA Tour victories under his belt. He won the first players to be contested in May 2007 and Thursday will make his 19th start at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course when the 38th players start.
Mickelson also became a fan favorite during his career and got involved in many charitable concerns including the military and education. He did all of this while raising a family and helping his wife Amy and mother Mary in their concurrent battles with cancer.
Mickelson’s varsity 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 entourage like Loy and caddie Bones McKay, Mickelson made it clear his career won’t end with the current record that landed him in the Hall of Fame.
“We are still working on others,” he said. “Starting with this week, and one next month (the US Open).”
Mickelson also thanked fellow players, media and fans.
“This big game, we’re all in this together,” he said. “Thank you (to the other players) for competing against me, and thank you to the media for telling the story and being part of the journey. It was so much fun. Since I bought a golf club , I’m living my dream.”
Lyle was the first native of Britain to win the Masters and the Players’ first international winner 25 years ago when he beat Jeff Sluman in a sudden-death elimination match. A native of Scotland who has a part-time residence at Ponte Vedra Beach, the easy-going and lovable Lyle has won 29 world tournaments and played for Europe on five Ryder Cup teams.
“He hasn’t changed much over the years,” said broadcaster Renton Laidlaw, who featured Lyle. “He’s friendly, considerate, 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 during her LPGA career. She remains the only woman to win three consecutive USGA events, junior girls from 1969 to 1971.
Martha Leach, one of Stacy’s nine siblings, said her family’s pride in her racing runs deeper than her 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 big sister,” Leach said as she introduced her.
Stacy said entering the Hall of Fame was “such a thrill”, and she attributed the opportunities 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’m here because 13 brave women had a dream,” she said of Suggs and other founding members of the Women’s Tour. “I am indebted to these women.”
While the induction ceremony celebrated these three players, it also honored two men who told many stories of the exploits of many Hall of Famers through the written and spoken word.
Jenkins, considered one of America’s premier sportswriters, began his golf writing career at the daily newspaper in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, covering two fellow Fort Worth legends, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. He later wrote for Sports Illustrated and still covers major championships for Golf Digest.
“How could anyone do it so well, so fast, so well?” asked Jenkins editor at Golf Digest, Jerry Tarde, who featured Jenkins. “He is the most influential writer in golf.”
Next month at the US Open in San Francisco, Jenkins will cover his 211th major. He covered his first at the 1951 US Open.
Jenkins has observed in his inimitable way that he is the third writer to enter the Hall of Fame and the first under certain circumstances.
“I’m thrilled, overwhelmed and thrilled about all of this stuff to fit into this society…especially as a vertical human,” he said.
Jenkins was extremely proud of his Texas roots and was inducted into the Hall of Fame on the 100th birth anniversary 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, won 20 other world events, was part of all but one Ryder Cup team between 1953 and 1969 and represented the England at the World Cup 10 times.
But while still at the peak of his playing skills in 1961, Allis started working for the BBC. His first tournament as a broadcaster was the 1961 Open Championship won by Arnold Palmer at Royal Birkdale and to this day his low key and graceful commentary has made him a favorite among golf viewers and is known as ” The Voice of Golf” in Europe. Alliss was the voice of the BBC and ABC for 190 major championships.
He also designed 50 golf courses, wrote more than 20 golf books and taught, including golf lessons to Sean Connery to prepare the actor for his famous match as Jams Bond against the villain in the film “Goldfinger “.
Alliss becomes the first broadcaster to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.