19th Hole: Peggy Kirk Bell Rated Top Golf Instructor
The venerable Peggy Kirk Bell, one of America's most honored and admired golfers, has been named the top golf instructor in North Carolina by Golf Digest Magazine.
The magazine rated the state's golf teachers in its current issue, and Bell --the owner of Pine Needles and Mid Pines resorts -- topped the list. A long-time leader in women's golf, she has been rated in Golf Digest's top 100 list of national instructors since the magazine began its ratings decades ago.
Bell was also recognized by the magazine as the nation's 35th ranked instructor.
"I am overwhelmed," she said when told of the honor. "With all the great teachers in North Carolina, I'm surprised they selected an old lady like me."
At the age of 87, the prominent and dedicated Bell still teaches individuals and classes daily at Pine Needles, and plays a key role in the resort's nationally-known "Golfaris," a series of golf schools for men, women and juniors.
This year -- the 44th for the schools -- there were nine sessions.
Bell and her late husband, "Bullet," were pioneers in founding golf schools, starting in 1965.
"We recognized a strong need for effective golf instruction shortly after we bought Pine Needles," she said. "It has been a great thrill to see so many people improve their game after attending a session. If I have made a contribution to the game -- and I hope I have -- it has been as a teacher."
In addition to Bell, Golf Digest cited Dana Rader, of Charlotte, as the second best in North Carolina, followed by Eric Alpenfels, of Pinehurst; Ed Ibarguen, of Durham; Paul McRae, of Pinehurst; Ben Hynson, of Cary; Rick Murphy, of Greensboro; Brad Clayton, of Oxford; Drew Pierson, of Wilmington; and Scott Davenport, of Charlotte.
Bell has been inducted into numerous sports halls of fame including North Carolina and Ohio, and has been honored on numerous occasions by the USGA and the LPGA, of which she was a charter member.
She lives in Southern Pines and is the mother of three children. She has eight grandchildren, several of whom are outstanding golfers.
Bill Hensley is a Hall of Fame golf publicist and freelance writer who lives in Charlotte and is a frequent contributor to The Pilot.
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