(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) – Judy Bell, the first female president of the United States Golf Association and a beloved member of the golf community, received the Bob Jones Award – the USGA’s highest honor –on Tuesday evening at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. Bell’s selection represents the latest accolade in a long and distinguished life in golf that has spanned more than six decades.
Presented annually since 1955, the award recognizes the principles that Jones – a winner of nine USGA championships –demonstrated throughout his life: spirit, personal character and respect for the game.
Bell, who served as USGA president in 1996 and 1997, used her platform to push for more youth and diversity programs, introducing more people to the game. She established the “For the Good of the Game” grants program, which dedicated more than $65 million to local and national initiatives devoted to improving communities through golf. She was also instrumental in the USGA Foundation’s leadership and fellowship program, which helped showcase viable careers in golf.
“The stars must have been aligned for the two female presidents to be on the stage together,” said Diana Murphy, USGA president. “Judy is an inspiration to so many and my opportunity to serve in this role is living proof of her great work and encouragement. Throughout her life, Judy’s tireless efforts to bring more people into the game have brought about so many beginner programs, stronger golf communities and smarter golf leaders. That is an incredible legacy.”
Bell competed in 38 USGA championships and was a member of the victorious 1960 and 1962 United States Curtis Cup Teams. She also advanced to the U.S. Women’s Amateur quarterfinals three times and to the semifinal round of the 1950 U.S. Girls’ Junior. She captained the USA Curtis Cup Teams in 1986 and 1988. Bell was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001.
A native of Wichita, Kan., Bell joins some of the game’s seminal figures in winning the Jones Award, including: Francis Ouimet (1955), Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1957), Arnold Palmer (1971), Jack Nicklaus (1975), President George H.W. Bush (2008), Annika Sorenstam (2012) and Payne Stewart (2014).