Trophies await presentation during the 2014 Texas Golf Hall of Fame award ceremony. Photo by Gary Perkins.
Trophies await presentation during the 2014 Texas Golf Hall of Fame award ceremony. Photo by Gary Perkins.

Texas is famous for producing some of the finest players ever to swing a golf club or stride a fairway and is well-known for being the home of a handful of the most challenging and celebrated courses on which the grand game is engaged.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that the facility which now houses artifacts from and plays tribute the those golfers and courses is located in San Antonio – on the grounds of historic Brackenridge Park Golf Course.

The Texas Golf Hall of Fame was founded in 1978 in Willis, moved to Houston in 1988 and reconstituted in 2009 at the Brackenridge Park Golf Course clubhouse and the adjacent and Borglum Studio, the working space of artist Gutzon Borglum, who created Mount Rushmore.

“This game has been very good to me, especially since I moved to Texas 30 years ago and I’m so honored to be able give back in this way,” said Dallas’ Hank Haney, who was inducted in 2014. “This is an honor I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life.”

The two buildings, and a lovely, tree-covered Walk of Fame in front of the studio lined with pedestals adorned with plaques with the names of the Hall’s inductee throughout the years, make up the edifice.

On the plaques are names etched into golf history of yesteryear and more modern time. To date, 124 individuals and eight golf clubs have been inducted in the Texas Golf Hall of Fame, which is the largest golf honor hall in the United States.

The Texas Golf Walk of Fame in Brackenridge Golf Course. Photo by Gary Perkins.
The Texas Golf Walk of Fame in Brackenridge Golf Course. Photo by Gary Perkins.

The first class of Inductees was comprised of eight of the greatest names in golf, including legendary players Jimmy Demaret, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Babe Zaharias and Lee Trevino.

Other early honorees included World Golf Hall of Famer Tom Kite, former PGA president Joe Black, LPGA star Betsy Rawls, longtime Brackenridge Park Golf Course head pro Tod Menefee, PGA Tour star Bruce Crampton and Kathy Whitworth, the LPGA Hall of Fame player who boasts 88 careers wins and was the first female player to break the $1 million barrier.

Last year’s class was made up of PGA Tour pro Jeff Maggert, PGA professional Paul Marchand, former Houston Golf Association director Preston Moore, former Tour player and teacher Roland Harper, noted amateur Trip Kuehne and the Northwood Club in Dallas, host of the 1952 U.S. Open.

From now until July 15, nominations are being accepted for the 2016 class of inductees of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame. All Texans and golf lovers are urged to nominate qualified individuals through and pursuant to the guidelines established on the Hall’s website at Nominations are accepted only though the website.

Individuals or Texas courses can be nominated in one of five categories – amateur, tour professional, golf professional/teacher or lifetime achievement, plus the Texas Registry of Historic Golf Courses.

The nominees will then be reviewed for eligibility and voted on by the living hall members, the TGHOF board of directors and Texas golf media. The final selection will be announced in August.

Conceived by course designer Jack Miller and Houston sportswriter, Jack Agness, the Texas Golf Hall of Fame was founded at Texas National Golf Club near Conroe, but it never really gained a foothold in the public eye. Texas National Golf Club was shuttered earlier this year, a victim of a recent 10-year trend that has seen more golf courses closing than new ones opening.

In 1988, the Woodlands Corporation bought the rights to the Hall of Fame and carried on the torch.

The Houston Golf Association took over operations in 1992 and continued the inductions until 1996.

In 1997, after relocating the Shell Houston Open to The Golf Club of Houston (then Redstone Country Club), the Houston Golf Association mothballed the Hall of Fame ; the original Texas Golf Hall of Fame was dissolved in 2001.

In 2008, as part of the restoration of the historic Brackenridge Park Golf Course, Black contacted San Antonio golf officials about reconstituting the Hall of Fame at “Old Brack,” the birthplace of public golf in Texas.

Golfers enjoy the course at Brackenridge Park Golf Course. Courtesy of Centro San Antonio.
Golfers enjoy the course at Brackenridge Park Golf Course. Photo courtesy of Centro San Antonio.

“I think this is really the place where it should be,” said Ben Crenshaw, who was inducted into the Texas Hall in 1984, the year he won his first Masters.

To help the new Hall of Fame endure, Black recommended that it should be governed by a board of directors comprised of multiple major golf organizations of the state of Texas. The board is comprised of 15 state-wide directors, of which eight are permanent and seven are at-large.

Longtime Texas golf professional Jerry Smith was recently elected as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Smith, who is from Tyler the former head golf professional at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas, succeeds long-time TGHOF Chair, Buddy Cook, of San Antonio and will serve a two-year term. 

“It is truly an honor to serve as the board chairman of the best state golf hall of fame in the country,” Smith said. 

Loren Singletary of Houston, former member of the USGA’s Executive Committee, was elected vice chairman, and Houston’s Mike Ray, executive director of the Southern Texas PGA, was elected secretary-treasurer. Billy Cavender and Bobby Dewar of San Antonio and Paul Earnest of Dallas were elected as directors. 

On October 10th, the Texas Golf Hall of Fame will induct its seventh class of inductees since reconstituting the Hall in 2009.  The induction dinner will take place at historic San Antonio Country Club

Top image: Trophies await presentation during the 2014 Texas Golf Hall of Fame award ceremony. Photo by Gary Perkins.

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Steve Habel is an Austin-based freelance sports, travel and business journalist. He is senior editor for Horns Illustrated magazine, a publication focusing on University of Texas sports, as well the San...