To preserve the rich history of the game and recognize those who have made lasting contributions, the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame has been founded and will induct its first class in the fall of 2015.
Everett Dobson, prominent Oklahoma City businessman, co-owner of Oak Tree National and a long-time competitor and supporter of amateur golf in Oklahoma, had the vision and provided the financial support to turn the idea into a reality. A board of influential golf enthusiasts from across the state has been meeting and working toward making the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame the finest state golf hall of fame in the nation.
“For a state of its size, Oklahoma golf history equals that of any state,” Dobson said. “I travel quite a bit and have noticed that other states have their own halls. I've felt for some time it was time for Oklahoma to step up and do the same, the men particularly.”
There has been a Women's Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame in existence since 2005. It has inducted 21 members. An offer was made to join forces in promoting one Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame for the state and Dobson said he was very pleased that the Women's Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame voted to merge. All inductees of the Women's Hall of Fame will be automatic members of the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame.
Ann Watkins, chairman of the Women's Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame, said it was a hard but forward-looking decision on the part of her board.
“We are very proud that we inducted 21 individuals who made significant contributions to women's golf and did it in a way that was accessible for all to attend a class event,” Watkins said. “The most important reason to merge is sustainability. The new hall desired to cover all of Oklahoma golf.
“Without a doubt, Everett Dobson and the board have the women's best interests at heart. They have put the wheels in motion to handle the Hall of Fame inductee selections in a very comprehensive manner. Many of our board members have already joined with the OGHF by serving on committees. We intend to help make this new Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame the best in the country.”
The board has prominent representatives from the Oklahoma Golf Association, PGA South Central Section, USGA and Women's Oklahoma Golf Association in addition to the Women's Hall of Fame Foundation.
In addition to Watkins and Louise Blumenthal from the women's board, the board lineup includes Nick Sidorakis, general manager of Southern Hills Country Club; Mark Felder, executive director of the Oklahoma Golf Association; Ron Ripley, treasurer of the OGA; Sheila Dills, president of the Women's Oklahoma Golf Association; Peter Vitali, president of the PGA South Central Section; Tim Fleming, director of golf at Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club; Tom Jones, president and COO of Oak Tree National; Lew Erickson, member of the USGA Women's Committee; former Oklahoma City mayor Ron Norick; Dean Blevins, sports director of KWTV in Oklahoma City; Ardmore businessman and Dornick Hills CC member Mike Cawley and Tulsa businessman and Southern Hills CC member Lawrence Field.
A selection committee has been working on the first class and it will be announced at a press conference on June 3 at Oak Tree National, which will also be the site and date of the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame Classic, the initial fundraiser for the Hall. The first class will be inducted Oct. 25 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. More information on Hall of Fame sponsorships, memberships and opportunities to play in the fundraiser are available at www.oklahomagolfhof.org or by calling Tom Jones at Oak Tree National, 405-348-2004.
Dobson announced the Hall of Fame will begin an annual scholarship program for Oklahoma High School seniors who have demonstrated an involvement with golf. The program will begin in 2016. Applications and more information are on the website.
Anyone with any questions on any aspect of the hall can call Golf Oklahoma magazine at 918-280-0787 or email publisher Ken MacLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org.