Pacific Northwest Golf Association and Pacific Northwest Section PGA to Induct Five at Joint Hall of Fame Ceremony
For the fourth time in Northwest golf history, the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) and the Pacific Northwest Section PGA (PNWPGA) will conduct a joint Hall of Fame ceremony to honor inductees from each organization. This combined Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held at Fircrest (Wash.) Golf Club on April 28.
For information on attending the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on April 28, contact the PNGA office at 206-526-1238 or click here for information.
The two associations began discussions in 2009 about the possibility of unifying their two induction ceremonies, and agreed upon one combined ceremony every two years to honor inductees from both organizations. Their respective Halls of Fame recognize those who have distinguished themselves through outstanding playing accomplishments as well as contributions to the game in the region.
“Every two years we recognize those individuals who have distinguished themselves by their achievements, dedication and selfless giving to golf in the Pacific Northwest,” said Mary O’Donnell, PNGA President. “This year’s inductees have brought recognition to the Pacific Northwest through excellence in championship play or outstanding contributions of their time and effort in the advancement of the game. A partnership of amateurs and professionals is the essence of making golf the wonderful game that it is. This joint induction dinner and ceremony exemplifies that positive relationship in the Pacific Northwest.”
Said Greg Manley, PNWPGA President and PGA Director of Golf at Meridian Valley Country Club, “The Pacific Northwest Section PGA values our great relationship with the Pacific Northwest Golf Association, as together we promote this wonderful game of golf. In 2011, our ties grew even stronger when we united our Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. This year, the Pacific Northwest Section PGA will be inducting two outstanding members of our Association. They represent all that is good about the game and the profession of golf, as they have consistently kept the best interest of their facilities, their customers, and the entire community of the Pacific Northwest at the forefront. We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our amateur counterparts to showcase two of our best and to uphold the great tradition and legacy of golf in the Pacific Northwest.”
Les Blakley was the PGA Head Professional of Kalispel Golf and Country Club (formerly Spokane CC) for 26 years. He served his members with distinction and was bestowed with the title of Golf Professional Emeritus by the club in appreciation for his dedication. Les served as President of the Pacific Northwest Section in 2005-2006, and was also President of the Inland Empire Chapter, and served two separate terms on the chapter’s Board of Directors. He was recognized as Golf Professional of the Year on two occasions (2006, 2014) and is a four-time winner of the Merchandiser of the Year Award for Private Facilities. Blakley has also been recognized a record 11 times by the Inland Empire Chapter as Merchandiser of the Year. Blakley grew up in Gresham, Ore. and played on the golf team at the University of Portland. He entered the golf business at Columbia Edgewater CC, before moving to Twin Lakes Village in 1982. He then moved to Kalispel Golf and Country Club in 1985.
For Mike Davis, it seems he was born for a life in the game. In high school, Mike lettered for three years in track and four years in golf. His senior year at the University of Oregon was arguably his best overall year as an athlete – he qualified for the 1968 U.S. Open, played in the NCAA Championship for golf, and also competed in the NCAA Championship for volleyball. He competed in four consecutive Pacific Coast Amateurs, including the inaugural championship held in 1967 at Seattle Golf Club. He would win back-to-back titles – 1969, 1970 – and was a member of four Morse Cup Teams. His winning ways continued, taking titles in the 1969 Payless Golf Classic, the 1970 Oregon Amateur, and qualifying again for the U.S. Open, this time in 1969. Now a PGA Master Professional of Instruction, Mike is a perennial “Top 100 Teacher in America.” Since 2012 he has been a Trustee for the Pacific Coast Golf Association with the SNGA.
Ruth Jessen was a phenom who tore through the Northwest amateur scene in the mid-1950s. She was medalist in the 1954 U.S. Girls’ Junior, and in 1954 won the WSWGA Amateur, the Seattle City Women’s Amateur (for the third consecutive year), the Lower Columbia Women’s Championship, the Apple Blossom Tournament, and the PNGA Women’s Amateur. She repeated at the 1955 PNGA Women’s Amateur. In 1956, after competing against (and consistently outdriving) LPGA star Patty Berg in a nine-hole exhibition outside of Seattle, Ruth turned pro and became, at 19, the youngest player on the LPGA Tour, where the colorful and fiery competitor quickly became a gallery favorite. She won 11 times in her 20 years on the tour, and had five top-10s at the U.S. Women’s Open, including two second-place finishes, in 1962 and 1964, losing in an 18-hole playoff in ‘64 to Mickey Wright. Throughout the 1960s, Jessen suffered several injuries, battled through two separate bouts of cancer, and underwent more than a dozen surgeries. She won her last tour title in 1971, an accomplishment so inspiring that she received the Ben Hogan Award to honor her comeback. For 30 years she was a golf instructor in the Phoenix area after retiring from competition. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 70.
Growing up in Edmonton, Alta., at age 12 Jackie Little played with her mom in a mother/daughter tournament, and they won. “And that was pretty much it,” Jackie recalls with a laugh. “I was absolutely hooked from that point on. I still have that trophy.” Jackie soon won her first of five City Junior Championships, and the following year was selected to her first of four Alberta Junior Teams, won the Alberta Juniors twice, was on the Canadian Junior Team twice and finished second in the Canadian Junior. In 1982, Jackie moved to Vernon, B.C. when her husband Pat was appointed Head Golf Professional at the Vernon G&CC. She would write her name on every significant trophy in British Columbia, winning five BC Women’s Amateurs, three BC Women’s Mid-Amateurs, and five BC Senior Women’s Amateurs. She won three Canadian national titles, and was named Senior Women’s Player of the Year for Canada and the PNGA in 2008 and 2009.
Roger Wallace has been the driving force at Polson Bay Golf Course for the past 30 years. He has been instrumental in raising funds for local organizations, and together with his staff has built a junior program in which over 400 kids participate annually. He served on the PGA of America’s Board of Directors and was President of the Pacific Northwest Section in 1999-2000. He was also President of the Western Montana Chapter, and served on the chapter’s Board of Directors on four separate occasions. Roger was recognized as Golf Professional of the Year on three occasions. He is a four-time recipient of the Pacific Northwest Section Bill Strausbaugh Award, and was awarded on the national level with the 2014 PGA of America Bill Strausbaugh Award. Nine of his former assistants have gained PGA membership and become Head Professionals, Directors of Golf and General Managers. Born in Whitefish, Mont., Wallace grew up in Washington, attending high school in Ephrata and Yakima, where he excelled on the Eisenhower High School golf team. He played golf at Spokane Falls Community College and at Eastern Washington University.
The PNGA and PNWPGA each have their own respective Halls of Fame that already include many of the Northwest’s finest golfers, with the PNGA honoring the amateurs and the PNWPGA honoring the PGA professionals. The PNGA established their Hall of Fame in 1978, and it currently has 63 amateur golfers as members. Click here to view a complete list of inductees and a full list of their accomplishments. The PNWPGA established their Hall of Fame in 1981, and it currently has 52 members. Visit www.pnwpga.com to view a complete list of inductees and their bios.
The PNGA and PNWPGA will continue to have a separate selection process for inductees into their respective Halls. However, members of both Halls will someday be showcased together as one combined display at the future Northwest Golf House, which will be located at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash.
About the Pacific Northwest Golf Association
The PNGA was founded on February 4, 1899. It is a 501c3 charitable, international, amateur golf association dedicated to preserving the true spirit of golf by supporting our allied associations, conducting quality championships, and promoting activities beneficial to golfers in the Pacific Northwest. The original purpose of the PNGA was to conduct a regional amateur championship for men and women, and for 118 years the Association has been a pioneer in developing and providing competitions and services to Northwest golfers. Today, the PNGA remains committed to being a truly regional organization, providing benefits to 220,000 individuals at over 720 PNGA member golf clubs.
About the Pacific Northwest Section PGA
The Pacific Northwest Section is one of the 41 geographically separated districts which make up the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. The Section provides services for the PGA golf professionals throughout the Northwest, and is divided into five chapters: Western Washington, Central Washington, Inland Empire, Western Montana, and Oregon. The Pacific Northwest Section is the largest in the country geographically, and with over 1,100 members, apprentices, and novices, ranks sixth in the number of golf professionals. Its membership is a group of professionals dedicated to making golf a better game. They are the club professionals throughout the Northwest who are responsible for the day-to-day activities at the many facilities throughout the Section. They are the driving force behind growing the game through programs like Drive Chip and Putt and PGA Junior League Golf.
Tags: Fircrest Golf Club, Jackie Little, Les Blakley, Mike Davis, Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame, PNWPGA, Roger Wallace, Ruth Jessen