Gary Player, Renee Powell, Mickey Wright and Lew Worsham, a foursome that impacted American and global golf, led a class of seven inductees enshrined in the PGA of America Hall of Fame.
The 2017 class, honored Thursday evening at the PGA’s 101st Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, also featured 2012 PGA Golf Professional of the Year Michael Schultz of Tequesta, Florida; Joe Tesori of Dewitt, New York; and the late visionary golf administrator George Henry Schneiter, formerly of Salt Lake City.
“The PGA of America takes great pride in welcoming this exceptional class into the PGA Hall of Fame. They represent some of the most significant contributors to our Association and to the game of golf,” said PGA of America President Paul Levy. “This class captured many of the prize jewels of our sport; stood strong against social injustice; inspired junior players and future professionals; gave hope to military Veterans; and whose on-course success left an indelible mark in our sport. Their names will be inscribed among those who have made golf the greatest game.”
Career Grand Slam winner Gary Player was unable to accept in person, but sent a video message while he was in South Africa hosting the Nedbank Challenge.
“The one word in the English language that isn’t used enough is ‘gratitude,’ ” said Player. “I am extremely grateful to the PGA for this honor and for what the PGA does every day at home and around the world for golf.”
LPGA Commissioner Emeritus Charlie Mechem accepted on behalf of legendary Mickey Wright. Host Jimmy Roberts of NBC Sports asked Mechem whether Wright, a winner of 82 LPGA Tour victories and 13 majors – “ever got her due.”
“I honestly don’t think any of the great women players get their due,” said Mechem, who went on to list PGA Professionals who supported and coached Wright to stardom. “Mickey told me that Paul Runyan taught me right, but I just learned wrong.”
PGA/LPGA Member Renee Powell of East Canton, Ohio, was supported by a contingent of guests that included NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris, who also was present in 2013 when the late William Powell, father of Renee, was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame. “It was so special to be here to support Renee, and be part of a celebration of that family,” said Harris, who serves on the Clearview Legacy Foundation, supporting the Powell’s family-owned and historic Clearview Golf Club.
Renee Powell owns many “firsts” in her career, including being among the first women honorary members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews.
“I never looked at myself as a trailblazer,” she said. “I believed that my mission was to create opportunities for everyone. It was a way of breaking down barriers. My parents set the model for me.”
Joe Tesori of Syracuse, New York, the PGA Head Professional at Pompey Club in Pompey, New York, said that his being honored occurred on a poignant date – Austin Adoption Day, when 31 children were adopted. “Sixty-eight years ago today, I was adopted,” said Tesori, who outlined a personal journey that has included his becoming a popular golf and football coach. Tesori spent 45 years as a basketball official. “I spent all summer winning friends and by winter was losing them,” joked Tesori.
Mike Schultz, who served 37 years as PGA Head Professional at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, mentored 40 men and women to become PGA Professionals. He also left a larger legacy in junior golf.
“I’m obviously very proud to have touched the lives of future professionals, but we also had 450 junior in our program. We’ve touched their lives, too, which is very gratifying.”
A closer glance of the 2017 PGA Hall of Fame inductees: click here
About the PGA of America Hall of Fame
Originated in 1940 at the suggestion of famed sportswriter Grantland Rice, the PGA of America Hall of Fame honors and recognizes individuals who through their lives, careers, service and support have made significant and enduring contributions to the PGA of America in its mission to grow the game of golf. Inductees include PGA Golf Professionals, Tour Professionals or Ambassadors, who throughout their lives have supported and elevated the image of the PGA Golf Professional, the PGA of America and the game of golf.