The Illinois Golf Hall of Fame has announced the 12 finalists under consideration for induction into the Class of 2019. The Selection Committee will meet later this month to select from a field of finalists that cover the game in Illinois from its beginning to the present day and featuring players and benefactors from every aspect of the game.
"We can't help but have an outstanding class with these nominees to select from," said selection committee chair Tim Cronin. "Collectively, they've done everything worth doing in golf. It's the strongest field in years."
- Bessie Anthony – playing out of Glen View Club, Anthony dominated American women's amateur golf during her short career at the beginning of the 20th century. She won the first three Women's Western Opens and the 1903 U.S. Women's Amateur.
- Emil Esposito – PGA Professional, parlayed a fine amateur record into a 50-year-plus career as a golf professional. He won the Illinois Open twice (1966-74) and collected a memorable title in the 1979 Illinois PGA Championship, the first to be held at Kemper Lakes, that led to a three-decade career with the KemperSports organization.
- Dr. Randy Kane - nicknamed "The Family Doctor" for his close attention to the turf quality of the Chicago District's courses. With a doctorate in plant pathology from Cornell, Kane served as the CDGA's first director of turfgrass programs from 1985 through 2006, and was a leader in identifying problems and passing the solutions to some 400 clubs in the CDGA area.
- Greg Kunkel - caddie master at Sunset Ridge Country Club since 1987, is both a developer of young people as caddies and adults, but a fine caddie himself, with two Illinois Open winners on his watch, among other achievements. He continues to lead the fundraising efforts for the Sunset Ridge Scholarship Fund, which he helped create. The fund has granted over $1,000,000 to deserving caddies and employees.
- William Langford - a leading golf architect long after his playing days, the Chicago native was co-creator with partner Theodore Moreau of several distinguished courses, including Lawsonia Links in Wisconsin, Wakonda in Iowa, Butterfield CC in the Chicago area and Kankakee Elks downstate. He was a founding member and twice president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, and a leader in public golf and course ratings.
- Carol Mann - educated in golf at Olympia Fields Country Club, Mann became one of the foremost players of her time. After turning pro before 20, she would go on to win 38 LPGA Tour tournaments, including a pair of majors, the 1964 Women's Western Open and the 1965 U.S. Women's Open. Behind the scenes, Mann was president of the LPGA when it hired its first commissioner and was the first woman to be a regular TV commentator, notably at NBC.
- Michael Miller - built the stature of the section and of area golf in general over 20 years as the Illinois PGA's executive director. Miller helped create the Illinois PGA Foundation, attracted corporate sponsors for the section's championships, including the Illinois Open, and boosted the visibility of the Hall of Fame through permanent exhibits at The Glen Club. In his time, the section created the Youth Skills Challenge for the 2006 PGA Championship, which evolved into the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.
- Francis Peabody - a philanthropist who built his fortune in coal and found his escape in golf, Peabody convinced the leaders at Chicago's private clubs to unite to organize tournaments and for the welfare of caddies, prompting the formation of the Chicago District Golf Association in the fall of 1914.
- Gary Pinns – PGA Professional, the only person to win the Illinois Open five times, doing so across three decades, with the first title in 1978 as an amateur. He then turned professional and captured three more in the 1980s, and the last in 1990. Pinns was also all-ACC at Wake Forest for two years while the team's captain on a squad that included Gary Hallberg, Scott Hoch and Robert Wrenn.
- Harry Radix - was more than just golf's No. 1 fan. He created the pro tour original ranking system in 1934 and donated the trophy for the circuit's player of the year. Eventually supplanted by the Vardon Trophy, Radix remained close to the game, and the Radix Cup Match was created to honor him. One of the few to get close to Ben Hogan, Radix was a supporter of golf locally and nationally.
- Dave Ryan - of Taylorville has built a formidable resume in senior amateur golf. His victory in the 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur is the capstone, so far, in a career including four Illinois Senior Amateur titles and seven times senior player of the year awards in eight years.
- Len Ziehm - has reported on the exploits of others in golf since 1968, spending the bulk of his career at the Chicago Sun-Times. He became known for the depth of his local coverage, as well as weekly reviews of public courses in era when newspapers had space for them, and continues to report for the Daily Herald, Illinois Golfer, Chicagoland Golf and his own website.
The Illinois Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2019 Induction Ceremony will be held Friday, October 18, 2019 at The Glen Club in Glenview, Ill., home of the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.
About the Illinois PGA/Illinois PGA Foundation
The Illinois Section of the PGA of America is a professional organization serving the men and women golf professionals in northern and central Illinois who are the recognized experts in growing, teaching and managing the game of golf. The Illinois PGA is responsible for the administration of competitive golf tournaments, educational opportunities, support programs and growth of the game initiatives. With over 840 members and apprentices, the Illinois PGA is one of the 41 regional Sections that comprise the PGA of America. The Illinois PGA Foundation focuses its community efforts on promoting the goodwill and growth of the game with an emphasis on activities that benefit youth. Foundation initiatives include: GolfWorks Illinois, Youth-based Scholarship Funds and the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame. For more information about the Illinois PGA and the Illinois PGA Foundation, please visit www.ipga.com and join us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
# # #
Illinois PGA Communications
(847) 729-4145 direct
(847) 804-2721 mobile