It began just more than a week ago with the induction ceremonies for two new members into the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals Hall of Fame. And it ends today with the wrap-up of the U.S. Kids World Championship.
In between were sandwiched the final two rounds of the 104th Women's North and South Amateur Championship, the LPGA T&CP National Championship, the organization's Hall of Fame Forum featuring six of the most famous women in golf, the annual Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association's Invitational, the Father-Son Championship and the Parent-Child Championship.
There was a nice turnout for the forum, held at Carolina Hotel on Saturday afternoon. And those who didn't show missed out on one of the great moments in the organization's history.
Featured were Peggy Kirk Bell, Louise Suggs, Betty Hicks, Marilynn Smith and the two new inductees, Annette Thompson and Ann Casey Johnstone.
The format was easy listening. The legends of the game took turns enthralling the audience with their stories, and Hicks proved to be a comedian, keeping everyone laughing with almost every comment she made.
"I started playing golf in junior college," Hicks said. "Hated it!"
Hicks gave out some friendly advice to young golfers that included such tidbits as, "Keep your dimples clean. They serve a purpose."
The author of at least two books, Hicks is now writing another.
"I'm writing my memoirs," she said. "You don't want to miss this one."
Like the other Hall of Famers, Hicks finds the size and stature of the LPGA Tour today beyond any early comprehension.
"It would have been hard to visualize the Tour of today when you were in some small town in Oklahoma having to cut the holes for that week's tournament," she said.
But Hicks recalls her playing days vividly.
"I won the national amateur championship in 1941," she said. "1941? Wow, that was a long time ago. Of course, I was very young at the time."
Hicks was born in Durham in 1920, and won two LPGA events that are now classified as "majors," the 1937 Women's Western Open and the 1940 Titleholders Championship. She was the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1941.
Some of the prominent members of the of CGCSA present at Forest Creek Golf Club for the invitational included Dave Fruchte of Pine Needles, Paul Jett of Pinehurst No. 2 and Bill Patton of the host club.
Fruchte is readying Pine Needles for the 2007 U.S. Women's Open, the club's third since 1996, while Jett was a star in his own right during the week of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst last summer and previously in 1999. Patton recently worked his special magic on the Forest Creek layout when it hosted the North Carolina Amateur Championship.
Asked which event put the most pressure on him -- preparing the courses for the best amateurs players in the state or for the Superintendents Invitational -- Patton had to laugh.
"They were both interesting," he said, "but these guys were more critical. The amateurs were just looking at the condition of the golf courses. These superintendents look at everything."
Despite his experience with the first two Women's Opens, Fruchte is taking nothing for granted. The Donald Ross-designed Pine Needles course has undergone an extensive restoration project since the 2001 Open, and it will play differently this time around.
The greens have been reseeded with A-1 bentgrass, replacing the Penncross that was used for the other Opens.
"It's going to be a lot easier to maintain them," said Fruchte, who has been at Pine Needles and Mid Pines since 1990. His worst fear is the nightmare of every greens superintendent -- damage to the greens prior to the championship.
"We'll keep the speeds lower this summer just to minimize the chances of something happening," he said.
The Pine Needles fairways featured rye grass for the 2001 championship, but the women will play on Bermuda in 2007.
"We'll over-seed the fairways and tee areas very lightly this winter," Fruchte said. "But the championship is being held later in the summer in 2007, and we'll have the Bermuda grown back in."
Meanwhile, the team of Deep Springs Country Club of Stoneville won the Invitational title at Forest Creek with Josh York, James Goin, Mike Crawford and Lisa Ipkendanz combining for a two-best-ball gross score of 137.
Myers Park Country Club of Charlotte, with team members Sam Murphy, David Rucker, Braxton McLennan and Macon Moye, took second with 138, while Jett led his Pinehurst No. 2 team of Kevin Robinson, Chad Gilligan and Ken Eichele to third place with 139.
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