Hall of Famer Bradley hasn't lost love for golf
For golfers, this past winter -- is it really past as cold, wet days continue -- is a reminder that New Englanders have precious few months of the year to hone their games.
That cold reality makes it all the more impressive that the commonwealth's very own Pat Bradley, who started playing at age 11, ignored the long odds facing the region's golfers and crafted a brilliant LPGA Tour career that landed her in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1991, one of precious few New Englanders to earn the honor.
On Saturday, May 17, Bradley will visit the Berkshires to share her golfing knowledge, wisdom, wit and enthusiasm with area golfers when Kay McMahon's eduKaytiongolf presents "A Day With Pat Bradley" at the Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club's practice facility in Lenox.
"I'm really looking forward to coming out to the Berkshires and sharing my experiences," said the six-time LPGA major championship winner. "I want them to know that no matter your age, this game still can give you excitement and joy."
And she is walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Far from having packed away her golf clubs, the 63-year-old is currently competing on the LPGA Legends Tour. This weekend, she is playing in a tour event in Sun City West, Ariz.
"Today [Friday] was practice to iron out the kinks," Bradley said during a phone interview. "Living on the Cape, it's not easy to keep the consistency I once had."
She was also adjusting to, shall we say, a slight climate change.
"It's supposed to 98 degrees. ... Of course they say it's a dry heat, but it's still 98," she said with a chuckle.
While the legend's tour has flown under the mainstream golf media's radar, it is slowly growing and is an important link to a history that goes back to the tour's founding by a group of pioneering golfers in 1950. Three of them -- Marilyn Smith, Shirley Spork and Louise Suggs -- are still living.
"There are a group of players like Nancy Lopez, Patty Sheehan, Jan Stephenson and myself who are working to grow this tour," said Bradley, who has one win and 11 top-10 finishes in 36 events. "It's a slow process, but it keeps our competitive juices and dreams of competing alive while raising money for charities. We have nine events a year and hope to get it to about 15.
"I know how important it is to grow the game with young people, but its also important to maintain the game for our older players who are going into the next phases of their careers."
Based on a phone interview, Bradley's enthusiasm for golf and its virtues will inspire the audience at Cranwell. And those who attend will see a legend who still has plenty of shot-making ability to demonstrate.
"I'll do a little hitting and let everyone know that with a little practice here and there, it is not time to fold up the tent, pack the clubs away and walk away from the game when you get older," she said. "I hope I can be a role model for women past the menopause age and show them they can maintain a decent game. Your age is just a number -- that is what I want to convey."
"It's all about creating a game for a lifetime," McMahon said. "Pat is a great example of that. She is still competing and working on her game. Living in New England, she knows golfers are made in the offseason."
Working with McMahon, who plays second fiddle to nobody when it comes to exuding enthusiasm, will bring together a pair of Hall of Famers. McMahon is a member of the LPGA Teachers and Club Professional's hall.
"I've known Kay since when was the president of the teaching division and she ran a tight ship," Bradley said. "She had a very important job in helping to establish a unity between our teaching division and playing division. It has worked out terrifically."
McMahon is looking forward to the pair collaborating to put on an informative clinic, which also will include individual instruction from McMahon and her eduKaytion golf team and a lunch during which Bradley will discuss her career and answer questions.
And what a career she has to discuss.
Thirty-one victories in 31 years on tour. The six majors, two player-of-the-year awards and one season -- 1986 -- that ranks with the best-ever on any tour when she became the first LPGA member to win three majors in the same year.
"Winning the U.S. Open in 1981 was so exciting for me, that's the crown jewel on the LPGA Tour," she said. "And I had been on the tour 13 years before 1986 when I won the three majors, the Vare Trophy (best scoring average) and player of the year for the first time. To hang in there that long to become No. 1 was rewarding."
But the biggest moment came when she captured her 30th tour victory in Buena Vista, Calif, in 1991, which guaranteed her a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla.
"The moment the putt went in, and I knew I was automatically in, that was pretty exciting. I had my Hall of Fame party at the Ritz Carlton in Boston in February (1992) -- it took me five months to plan it" she said with a laugh.
Now she's hoping that eventually she won't be the only Bradley in the Hall.
"Hopefully, some day Keegan will be in line to be there," said the proud aunt of the PGA Tour star and 2011 PGA Championship winner.
And yes, you can bet Keegan and all his trademark mannerisms may come up once or twice during the May 17th gathering at Cranwell.
To contact Richard Lord:
A Day With Pat Bradley
n What: An exhibition
by LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley. individual instruction with eduKaytiongolf's staff under the direction of Kay McMahon and a luncheon that will feature a question-and-answer session with Bradley.
n Where: Golf practice facility at Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club.
n When: 9 a.m.Saturday, May 17.
n Price: $119 for adults, $79 for juniors (ages 7-17).
n Sponsor: Scott Schiff's Auto Center in Lenox.
n Information: For more information or to sign upk, go to www.edukaytiongolf.com or call (518) 669-1551. The sign-up deadline is Thursday.
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