GCSAA hits the mark by tabbing Judy Rankin for Old Tom Morris Award
Every year, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America honors somebody in golf with the Old Tom Morris Award. It’s the GCSAA’s most prestigious award, and the 2010 recipient will be Judy Rankin, a most deserving choice.
Named for the old Scottish golf pro and greenskeeper, the award will be presented before the Golf Industry Show in San Diego next February. My guess is that Rankin’s acceptance speech will be eloquent as her golf career.
Most of us, these days, know the World Golf Hall of Fame member from her television work. I think she’s so good as an on-course reporter that we don’t even think of her as a female commentator, but just one of the guys ? and one of the best ones at that.
Honestly, we may get more chuckles out of David Feherty or Gary McCord, but Rankin is as solid as they come, making you feel like you’re right there with the players as she describes their situations and shot selections.
Rankin, of course, had a terrific playing career. She won the 1959 Missouri Amateur at age 14 and finished as the low amateur in the 1960 U.S. Women?s Open at age 15, the youngest to take such honors until Naree Song broke that record 40 years later.
In 1962, she turned pro at age 17 and racked up 28 professional wins, including 26 LPGA tour victories over the next 20 years. Her playing career at the age of 38 was cut short because chronic back problems. She then embarked on a highly successful career as a golf commentator for ABC and ESPN, which included being the first woman to work full-time on broadcasts of men’s events. She also captained the victorious American teams in the 1996 and 1998 Solheim Cups.
Rankin was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and after treatment, she returned in time to work the Women’s British Open that year. In 2007, Rankin was honored by the Golf Writers Association of America with the Ben Hogan Award, which goes to the individual who has continued to be active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness.
“Judy has always recognized the value of golf course superintendents,” GCSAA President Mark D. Kuhns said. ” She is one of the great players in the history of the game, making her support of the work of our members even more meaningful and impactful. She is truly a wonderful person and we are pleased to honor her.”
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