By Jack Bantock, CNN
Shirley Spork, one of the 13 founders of the Women’s Professional Golf Association (LPGA), died at the age of 94, the organization announced on Tuesday.
A pioneering figure for female golfSpork died in Palm Springs, Calif., where she had coached since the early 1950s, the LPGA said.
Born in Detriot, Michigan in 1927, Spork was an avid golfer throughout his time at Michigan State Normal College before graduating in 1949.
A year later, she turned pro and, along with 12 others, founded the LPGA. In 1959, along with co-founders Marilynn Smith, Betty Hicks and Barbara Rotvig, she started the organization’s first teaching division which would become the current LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Membership (T&CP).
In 2022, LPGA Tour members will compete in 34 official events for purses totaling $85.7 million, while T&CP members top 1,700 in 25 different countries.
One of two two-time winners of the LPGA Female Teacher of the Year award, Spork carved out a legendary coaching career, continuing to work in Palm Springs well into her 90s.
“Over the years I’ve met a lot of people and made a lot of dear friends,” Spork said, according to the LPGA.
“It was fun to go to work every day and teach because people who came to see me wanted to learn how to play.
“Learning to golf is like eating an elephant – it’s overwhelming unless you only eat one bite at a time and digest it slowly.”
Hall of Fame
Two weeks before his death, Spork was informed at the Herringbone Championship that she was to be inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame alongside the organization’s other eight founders who have yet to be inducted.
“Inducting into the LPGA Hall of Fame is the highest honor ever bestowed upon our profession,” Spork said. Told the LPGA.
“I climbed the whole ladder and reached the top. I hope I can sit on this ladder for a few more years and enjoy it.
Tributes acknowledging Spork’s legacy for the sport poured in on social media.
“The game would not be what it is today without the pioneering spirit of LPGA founder Shirley Spork,” the US Golf Association said. tweeted Tuesday.
“His leadership, his friendship and his love of the game will be greatly missed.”
Canadian golfer Alena Sharp, a member of the LPGA Tour since 2005, said the sport had lost a “true legend”.
“You have paved a way for us all”, Sharp tweeted Wednesday. “May we learn from your passion and love for life and golf.
“You were an incredible role model. Thank you for everything you did for women’s golf!
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