Smith Heads Area Golfers On Legends Team

Posted: March 21, 1991

Dick Smith, the new president of the PGA of America, and current PGA Tour players Art Wall, Ed Dougherty and Dick Hendrickson headed the list of 15 area golfers named yesterday to the Philadelphia PGA Section's "Playing Legends Team" in conjunction with the organization's 70th anniversary.

The Legends team represents the best golfers in the history of the Philadelphia PGA.

"Quite frankly, I'm humbled by being on the same list of names as some of the greatest players ever to play in the Philadelphia section," said Smith, the Cherry Hill resident who was a five-time Philadelphia PGA champion and Player of the Year, with his most recent title coming in 1983. "The Philadelphia section has long been recognized through the years as one of the top playing sections in our country.

"We're proud of the competition here and we think it's an important part of the development of the golf professional, that he is able to play and work on his game at the highest level to be the best player that he can be, and it goes hand in hand with his job as a professional."

Others honored included Wall, the Masters champion and PGA Player of the Year in 1959, who was a member of the area section from 1955-76; PGA Tour pro Dougherty, of Edgmont Country Club, a three-time Philadelphia PGA champion; Hendrickson, a two-time player of the year now playing on the PGA Senior Tour; and current section players Rick Osberg, of Waynesborough CC; and Jack Connelly, of Huntingdon Valley CC.

Osberg, the defending Philadelphia PGA champion, is a three-time section player of the year, an honor Connelly has captured four times in his distinguished career.

Al Besselink, the 1953 Tournament of Champions winner on the PGA Tour, and Henry Williams, the runner-up in the 1950 PGA championship, were the other living members selected.

Seven players were named to the team posthumously: Sam Byrd; Dave Douglas; PGA Hall of Famer Ed Dudley; seven-time PGA Tour winner Ed "Porky" Oliver, who was a member of three Ryder Cup teams; George Smith; George Fazio; and Leo Diegel.

SMITH ON OPEN MEMBERSHIP

Smith, who is beginning his two-year term as head of the PGA of America, said that Aronimink Golf Club, citing the PGA's new policy of open membership to minorities, is the only future PGA championship site that has withdrawn its invitation to host a PGA event.

Smith did not wish to comment on Tuesday's USGA announcement that Merion Golf Club had withdrawn as host of the '94 Women's U.S. Open due to its inability to comply with minority membership guidelines.

Smith said that under his term in office, the PGA of America will continue to take its championships only to those courses that have instituted open membership policies for minorities and women.

"I really don't have a comment on the Merion situation," Smith said at the Philadelphia PGA's annual press conference at Eagle Lodge Conference Resort in Lafayette Hill. "It needs to be understood that Merion has a right to set their membership criteria, but at the same time, groups such as the PGA also have the opportunty to set the guidelines for conducting championship events.

"The PGA of America, and our role in this, has responded in a positive nature. And I think the game of golf is responding to it, generally, and will continue to respond. We, the PGA of America, was possibly remiss in not addressing this issue up until six or seven months ago, through our history, but we're addressing it now and I think the game of golf will be better for it, and everyone around the game of golf will be better because of it.

"I don't think it's going to be an issue that will just be a Dick Smith issue. I think it's an issue that the PGA of America is addressing and will continue to do so."

CHIP-INS

Smith said that no other area clubs have expressed an interest in hosting the '93 PGA in place of Aronomink . . . The Philadelphia PGA announced that Children's Hospital will be the beneficiary of this year's section PGA championship . . . Mark your calendars - the local PGA will once again attempt to break the record (10 minutes, 31 seconds) for the world's fastest round of golf June 3 at Springhaven CC.

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