By Ann Guiberson
Each year the United States Open Championship, commonly known as the U.S. Open, is one of the most anticipated and exciting weeks in golf. The United States Golf Association’s (USGA) most prestigious trophy is presented to the low scorer typically on Sunday unless there is a Monday playoff. Also, during U.S. Open week the USGA’s highest award for distinguished sportsmanship is presented.
Yesterday millions of viewers around the world watched and cheered on Dustin Johnson as he claimed his first major championship and possession of the iconic U.S. Open Championship trophy dating back to 1895. Earlier in the week the golf community celebrated another exciting event. On Tuesday evening at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh, Judy Bell was honored with the Bob Jones Award for lifelong service to the game. Recipients of the Award are individuals who demonstrate the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by nine-time USGA champion – Bob Jones.
Judy Bell’s accomplishments in golf as a volunteer administrator, an ambassador for the game, and a player simply cannot be matched. Here are some of her accomplishments.
Judy started her volunteer career with the USGA when she joined the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship Committee in 1961. She then served 17-years on the USGA Women’s Committee from 1968 to 1984. Judy is well-known around the world for serving as president of the USGA. In 1996, she was the first woman to be elected president of the USGA. Simply put, when leaders and visionaries were needed, Judy delivered.
Grassroots Program Development
One of Judy’s greatest accomplishments was a platform created for more youth and diversity programs. Judy established the “For the Good of the Game” grants program, that dedicated more than 65 million dollars to local and national initiatives devoted to improving communities through golf. She also created the USGA Foundation’s leadership and fellowship program. Additionally, one can’t forget the LPGA/USGA Girls’ Golf program. Today the LPGA/USGA Girls’ golf program is a very successful and growing program because of Judy’s early efforts promoting and supporting it.
Support of State and Regional Amateur Golf Associations
Judy has always been especially supportive of state and regional amateur golf associations. State and regional golf associations (SRGAs) serve as the USGA’s local delivery system and are the mainstay of the USGA’s ability to administer the game. Judy assisted in facilitating the allocation and distribution of USGA-funded grants and goods to SRGAs designed to assist associations in elevating local programs and service delivery. Judy’s ongoing support and recognition of SRGAs provided that extra push that has raised the bar at the local level.
Clearly Judy Bell made exceptional contributions to the game. Every time I’m with Judy I learn more and more about how her passion for the game has facilitated and pioneered its growth. She took her love and respect for the game and made a tremendous positive impact. I’ve learned a lot from Judy and I am grateful for the opportunity to get to work with her. She is an inspiring leader, mentor and friend. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Her smile is priceless. Congratulations Judy on this well-deserved honor along with a heartfelt “thank you”!