Shirley Spork, one of 13 LPGA Tour founders who learned two weeks ago that she would be inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame, has died, the LPGA has announced. She was 94 years old.
The LPGA said she died in Palm Springs, California, where she lived and taught until she was 90. Although she never won on the LPGA Tour – her best result was runner-up to the LPGA Championship in 1962 at Stardust Country Club in Las Vegas – Spork’s impact spanned seven decades of beginning of the tour and teaching the game.
She was behind the creation of the LPGA’s teaching and pro club division, which started with six members and now has more than 1,700 professional women.
The LPGA Hall of Fame is one of the toughest in the sport, requiring 27 points accrued through wins, majors and top awards. The tour voted last month to add Lorena Ochoa, who hadn’t reached the 10-year minimum on tour; and all the founders who did not return by their performances on the golf course.
“Being in the LPGA Hall of Fame is our profession’s highest honor, so I’ve worked my way up to the top,” Spork said. “Hopefully I can sit on that ladder for a few more years and enjoy it.” A longtime resident of Palm Desert, Calif., Spork showed up regularly for the first major of the year in Mission Hills. She also attended the Founders Cup, often greeting players with a handshake and a swing tip on the 18th green.
“There are many things I admire about Shirley, but one in particular is her passion to keep learning and staying involved in the game,” said Karrie Webb, the only woman to win five major tournaments. different. “When she’s at an LPGA event, you’ll always find her on the court watching all the girls, getting to know them and maybe even tipping a tip or two.” Spork grew up near Detroit and started out with just a putter. Golf course pro Bonnie Brook took notice and gave her a set of 3, 5, 7 and 9 irons. She quickly won regional tournaments and won the National Collegiate Golf Tournament in 1947 at what is now Eastern Michigan University.
On May 6, 1950, while teaching in the Detroit public school system, Spork turned professional and became one of 13 women who signed the original LPGA charter.
While Spork competed regularly on the LPGA during those early years, she started out as an instructor. She persuaded the LPGA to create a teaching division in 1959. Spork was one of only two people to be selected as the LPGA’s Teacher of the Year twice, and she did so at age 25. ‘interval.
“Over the years I’ve met a lot of people and made a lot of dear friends,” Spork said. ”It was fun to go to work every day and teach because the people who came to see me wanted to learn how to play. Learning to play golf is like eating an elephant. It’s overwhelming unless you only eat one bite at a time and digest it slowly. His death leaves Marlene Hagge as the only surviving founder of the LPGA.
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