New Hampshire golf is getting a Hall of Fame.
The New Hampshire Golf Association and New Hampshire Women's Golf Association, along with the New Hampshire Chapter of the New England PGA and the New Hampshire Golf Course Superintendents Association, have created the New Hampshire Golf Hall of Fame, which will induct its inaugural class on Oct. 18 at Manchester Country Club.
The 10-member class includes amateurs Bob Mielcarz, Jesse Guilford, Dana Harrity, Robert "Doc" Elliot and Bill Barrett, while the professional inductees are Kirk Hanefeld, Jane Blalock, Tony Loch, Pat Bradley and Phil Friel.
The Hall of Fame's creation was announced in June, but NHGA executive director Matt Schmidt said the groundwork began in March 2017.
"We had a Golf Hall of Fame where I came from in Indiana and did a similar fall event, but it was the Hall of Fame ceremony. I sort of floated that idea out to the board and everybody sort of agreed that this was what it was going to turn into," Schmidt said.
That groundwork included such things as developing the Hall of Fame's mission, criteria for induction, and systems for voting and nominations.
Obvious inclusions in the first induction class were Mielcarz and Harrity, who have 25 amateur championships between the them, and professionals Hanefeld, Blalock and Bradley, but the committee looked beyond playing careers.
"We had the discussion early on if we were focusing too much on the playing aspect of things because that's what people really associate a Hall of Fame with," Schmidt said. "Other Hall of Fames see executives go in and even members of the media. For us we're talking about contributors like media members covering our events, USGA committee members, course superintendents, PGA professionals and so on."
Blalock, who grew up in Portsmouth, was the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1969 and won 34 professional tournaments in her 18-year career. She is founder and CEO of the LPGA Legends tour.
Bradley, who is from Westford, Mass., grew up playing Nashua Country Club. She won the State Amateur in 1967 and '69, and the New England Amateur in 1972 and '73 before turning pro in 1974 and earning 34 tour wins, including the 1981 U.S. Open and 1986 LPGA championship. She was LPGA Player of the Year in 1986 and 1991.
Hanefeld grew up in Claremont and won the 1974 and '76 State Am and the 1977 New England Amateur before turning pro. He has 10 professional wins and now plays on the PGA Champions Tour.
Loch has been a PGA Professional for more than 50 years, serving the majority of that time as head professional at Portsmouth Country Club.
Friel's greatest accomplishment was constructing Green Meadow Golf Club in Hudson, which was one of 10 courses he owned around New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.
Barrett is highly recognized for his work as a golf course superintendent and co-founder of the New Hampshire Golf Course Superintendents Association.
Elliott served as NHGA secretary and treasurer for 35 years, beginning in 1963, and aided several expansions of the NHGA's activities during his tenure.
"The first class is inevitably going to be the most difficult as far as how many and who we are going to include," Schmidt said. "We said to ourselves when the public and golf community is viewing this, they need to be able to see a picture of people who the committee in future years can look back on. . So we weren't really concerned with a number as much as we were making sure people knew what this was and what we want it to be."
Schmidt added that he expects this to be the largest induction class for some time, saying a maximum group of four to five inductees a year is likely going forward.
The response to the Hall of Fame's establishment has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Schmidt. New Hampshire was one of the few states in the country without a Golf Hall of Fame.
"I've been excited by the feedback we've gotten from folks," Schmidt said. "I think there's a level of 'It's about time,' but it's not presented to us in that way. People are saying it more in regards to how great this is for our game. We've had people already coming to us offering suggestions on good additions down the road, and that really makes us feel energized with people being in tune with what's going on and making this a big deal."
Tickets for the the induction ceremony are available to the public by visiting the NHGA website and clicking on the Hall of Fame link at the top of the homepage. For more details, contact the NHGA at 219-0371.