The inaugural massachusetts golf hall of fame gala
thursday, october 16, 2014
blue hill country club
It was a night where the past was honored and the future seemed so bright.
In front of a full house of attendees at Blue Hill Country Club, the second class of inductees – Ted Bishop, the Curtis Sisters (Margaret and Harriot), Joanne Goodwin,Paul Harney, Bob Toski and Fred Wright– were enshrined in the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame.
This new class joins the inaugural class – inducted in 2002 – of Fred Corcoran, Pat Bradley, Francis Ouimet and Donald Ross.
“We could not have asked for a more successful evening,” said Tom Bagley, chairman of the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame Committee. “We had representatives from both classes in attendance and you could sense how much this state appreciates the rich history of golf in Massachusetts.”
The evening of celebration, which was brilliantly led by master of ceremonies Mike Dowling, included video tributes to each inductee and special fireside chats with living honorees Toski and Goodwin.
The evening kicked off with a special welcome address from Pat Bradley, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame (1991) who stands as the only player to have captured three of the four modern-day majors in a single season (1986).
Bradley was joined that evening by her 90-year-old mother Kathleen Bradley, who gained national fame for standing on the porch of her home in Westford and ringing a Swiss cow bell everytime her daughter would capture a victory.
Toski, who traveled with nearly two dozen family members from Florida to Canton for the festivities, took time earlier in the day to give a putting lesson at Blue Hill Country Club with golf professional Lou Katsos and sign autographs for adoring fans.
“This has been first class, none of the other four (Halls of Fame) have done it quite like this . . . absolutely first class,’’ said Toski to Springfield Republican reporter Russ Heldwho was on hand for the celebration. “And this is special to me because Massachusetts is my home state. All the special memories here. I was born here, raised here. All of my roots are in this state and Western Mass.’’
Before walking away from the PGA Tour in 1958 to spend more time with his young family, he had won five times, played in five Masters, six U.S. Opens, and nine PGA Championships and was the PGA Tour’s money leader in 1954.
What came next, however, transcended Toski to another level. He became and remains today a leading golf coach who has worked with players such as Tom Kite, Ken Duke, Bruce Crampton, Judy Rankin andJane Blalock who was on hand that night to help celebrate her former instructor. He also penned several books and made some of the earliest golf instruction videos.
In fact, GolfDigest Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde wrote – in a letter sent to Toski upon hearing of his induction into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame – the following about his longtime friend:
“I once wrote that Bob is to the golf instruction profession what Arnold Palmer is to the pro tour and that remains as true as ever.”
Toski, the 1958 winner of the Massachusetts Open Championship, is the only living member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame and was inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame in 2013.
At the age of 88, Toski has continually defied the odds. After all, while on stage last night withGolfWeek Senior Writer Jim McCabe, Toski noted during the ceremony that there would never again be a 118-pound PGA Tour money winner.
During the evening celebration, Toski had an opportunity to spend time with Goodwin who stands as one of the most accomplished female golfers of the 20th century. She advanced to the finals of the 1958 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship and was a member of the victorious United States team that competed at the 1960 Curtis Cup Match.
During her fireside chat with Dowling, Goodwin recounted an experience at the WGAM Junior Amateur Championship – an event she won four times during her career – where Margaret Curtis served as her scorer for the final match.
“She had a fondness for looking for stray balls in the rough and the brooks, which she occasionally she did that day,” said Goodwin.
The story drew laughter from the crowd and was especially enjoyed by Charles Shurcliff, the great nephew of the Curtis sisters who was on hand to accept for Margaret and Harriot Curtis.
"They would have been thrilled to have been here and to accept this great honor," said Shurcliff, who recalled the days of serving as caddie for Margaret whom he affectionately called "Pegs".
Joining Shurcliff were family representatives from the Ross, Ouimet, Corcoran, Bishop, Wright and Harney families.
Tim Harney, son of the great Paul Harney, drew tears from many attendees when he recounted how much his father loved the Bay State golf community.
“If my father was standing here before you, he would not be talking about what he accomplished. He would be thanking you all for what you did for him and for golf.”