Each year the United States Open Championship, commonly known as the U.S. Open, is one of the most anticipated and exciting weeks in golf.  The United States Golf Association’s (USGA) most prestigious trophy is presented to the low scorer.  Also, during U.S. Open week the USGA’s highest award for distinguished sportsmanship is presented.

This year on U.S. Open Sunday, millions of viewers around the world watched and cheered on Dustin Johnson as he claimed his first major championship and possession of the iconic U.S. Open Championship trophy dating back to 1895.  Earlier in the week, the golf community celebrated another exciting event.  Judy Bell was honored with the Bob Jones Award for lifelong service to the game.  Recipients of the Award are individuals who demonstrate spirit, personal character, and respect for the game.

Judy Bell’s accomplishments in golf as a volunteer administrator, an ambassador for the game, and a player simply cannot be matched.  Here are some of her accomplishments:

Leadership

Judy started her volunteer career with the USGA when she joined the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship Committee in 1961.  She then served 17-years on the USGA Women’s Committee.  Judy is well-known around the world for serving as president of the USGA.  In 1996, she was the first woman to be elected president of the USGA.  When leaders and visionaries were needed, Judy delivered.

Grassroots Program Development

One of Judy’s greatest accomplishments was a platform created for more youth and diversity programs.  Judy established the “For the Good of the Game” grants program, that dedicated more than 65 million dollars to local and national initiatives devoted to improving communities through golf.  She also championed the LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf Program and created the USGA Foundation’s leadership and fellowship program.

Support of State and Regional Amateur Golf Associations

Judy has been especially supportive of state and regional golf associations (SRGA’s).  These organizations serve as the USGA’s local delivery system and are the mainstay of the USGA’s ability to administer the game.  Judy assisted in facilitating the allocation and distribution of USGA-funded grants and goods to SRGAs.  Her ongoing recognition of SRGAs helped raised the bar and elevate local programs and service delivery.

Inspirational Leader and Mentor

Judy Bell
Judy Bell | Courtesy USGA. All Rights Reserved.

Clearly, Judy Bell made exceptional contributions to the game.  Her passion for the game has facilitated and pioneered its growth.  Her love and respect for the game has resulted in a tremendous positive impact.  I’ve learned a lot from Judy and I am grateful for the opportunity to get to work with her.

From 1999 to 2013, I was employed by the USGA as a regional affairs director.  I didn’t work across the desk from Judy Bell, but I helped facilitate and carry out the programs and initiatives that she introduced.  In committee meetings and in individual visits with Judy I observed her passion for the game first-hand.  A few memories include:

Driving Miss Bell

My staff assignment at the 2002 Curtis Cup Match played at Fox Chapel Golf Club in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was to transport the “cup” and to keep it safe. The cup is a silver bowl of Paul Revere design with the inscription “To stimulate friendly rivalry among the women golfers of many lands.”

I was also assigned to drive Judy Bell around the course while the Match was underway.  Both of these very important assignments made for plenty of fanfare.  Anytime I had the cup in my hands, including transporting it to and from social functions and strategic locations around the Club, people came up and wanted to see it, ask questions, or get a picture.  The same held true when I was on assignment with Judy Bell.  Absolutely everyone wants to say hello to Judy Bell, shake her hand, snap a picture or get an autograph.  She’s a rock star in golf!  It was a fun and inspirational week.  I especially enjoyed the informal conversations with Judy as we leap frogged and maneuvered around the course watching the Match.  The United States won the Match defeating Great Britain and Ireland 11 and 7.

Growing Girls’ Golf

LPGA USGA Girls GolfDear to Judy’s heart is the LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf program that specializes in providing girl-friendly environments to learn the game. Although the program is centered around golf, it also works on improving life skills specific to young girls, including self-esteem, leadership, confidence and perseverance.  Judy has supported the program since its inception more than 25-years ago.  She inspired enthusiasm for the program, resulting in more sites, more girls, more volunteers, and more instructors.  As a USGA regional director assigned to the northeast region, I made it a priority to act on Judy Bell’s charge.  I helped achieve Judy’s desired results by recruiting volunteers and state and regional golf associations to start program sites of their own or support existing sites in their areas.  Today, thanks to Judy’s efforts, there are more than 300 program sites that are helping to prepare girls for a lifetime of enjoyment of the game.  It’s incredible to see how far this program has come.

Everyone agrees Judy Bell is an inspirational leader, mentor, and friend.  Her enthusiasm for the game is contagious.  Her smile is priceless.


ann guiberson womens golf

Ann Guiberson is a golf administrator with more than 20-years of experience working with state and regional amateur golf associations and the United States Golf Association (USGA). She served as a USGA Regional Affairs Director for 14-years and USGA Championship Director for 9-years.
Ann attended the University of Nebraska on a golf scholarship. She has a Masters Degree in Athletic Administration.

Follow Ann Guiberson online on Linkedin and [email protected]

 

Feature photo of Judy Bell – Courtesy USGA. All Rights Reserved

10 COMMENTS

  1. Great article. It is amazing that Judy Bell had the unique capability of contributing so much to the game of golf (with all her experience at every level) and then Judy actually “did it”. Judy defined the slogan, Just Do It!!! You can never replace or substitute actual experience in all levels of the game when advising and creating golf ideas and turning them into programs. Judy even made a contribution to handicapping,..it was Judy’s idea that 9 hole scores get posted by 18 hole players. Therefore when you post, you will see you can enter an 18 hole score or a 9 hole score,…that was Judy’s idea. After work, Judy and her friends would run out to play 9 holes and they could never post. Judy thought, I bet there are a lot of people like me that work all day, see that there is 2 hours of daylight and play a “quick 9”. But Judy’s index would not budge because she couldn’t post 9 hole scores…that is, until Judy got that ball rolling. I think Judy had to hire a secretary just to keep track of all her ideas. 😄.

    • Lynn, good comments. Judy was indeed involved in facilitating 9-hole score posting and that was a good evolution for the game. Judy has always had a vision that has led to positive results at all levels of the game.

    • Phyl, thank you for you for reading. And thank you for volunteering. The Arizona Women’s Golf Association is a fine organization. Great AWGA programs especially in the areas of outreach and player development. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thank you! I’ve known Judy Bell for a long time. Known are here golf achievements. Not enough can be said for her priceless friendship and dedication to her friends and family. I’ve held her as an model for my daughters. I’m proud to have known her and treasure our friendship.

  3. Superb article about a superb person. Judy Bell is one of a kind – and certainly one of the greatest presidents of the USGA. She knew how to connect with everyone and she never failed to do that for all of the state and regional associations, no matter how small, throughout her presidency. Ann, you have captured her in a terrific way.

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