June 25, 2015. The Long Beach Golf Hall of Fame will be welcoming ten new members in 2015, according to Hall of Fame Chairman Len Kennett. The 2015 inductees are Dick Linares and Walt Willows. In addition to this, the 20th annual class of inductees, the Long Beach Golf Hall of Fame decided to recognize those people who are deserving of induction but may have not been familiar enough to the general public to have been previously inducted. Therefore, seven individuals are being inducted in an “Emeritus Class” this year. The Emeritus Inductees are Ernie Combs, Irving Cooper, Connie Freeze-Westover, Henrietta Holden, Joe Nichols, Walter “Boots” Porterfield and Anne Wallace-Hedley.
“The City of Long Beach has a rich tradition of good golf, good golfers, and great tournaments,” said Kennett. “We want to acknowledge those people who have played the game well, like Patrick Cantlay, as well as those who serve the game and make it better or more enjoyable for everyone like PGA members Walt Willows and Dick Linares. Also, in this, our 20th year of inductees, we went back through our records of nominees and identified seven past nominees whose accomplishments and service are worthy of acknowledgment. All of these inductees represent what is good about golf in general and in Long Beach in particular.”
Dick Linares – One of the considerations for inductees into the Long Beach Golf Hall of Fame is the answer to the question “how would golf be different in Long Beach if not for this person”. Well, golf would likely be very different in Long Beach had it not been for Dick Linares. When the Virginia Country Club bought land from the railroads and moved from their location at what is now Recreation Park GC, Dick Linares convinced the City fathers to take over the land and build an 18-hole golf course with grass greens. He became the first golf professional at “The Municipal Links” from 1922 to 1929 when he left to open a course in Tuscon, AZ. Dick was an exceptional golfer who won the 1924 So Cal PGA Championship, qualified for the US Open and played in exhibitions and matches against the likes of Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. Dick passed away in February 1948.
Walt Willows – If you have ever attended the Long Beach Open (or the Junior World at Torrey Pines) you have seen Walt Willows’ handiwork on the Tournament Scoreboard. Walt first became a PGA member in 1976 while working at Soule Park GC in Ojai, CA. From there, he moved to the San Diego area and became one of the Assistant Professionals at the popular Singing Hills Resort in El Cajon, where he worked for future PGA of America President Tom Addis, III. He left Singing Hills to become the Head Professional at San Diego’s Mission Trails GC, a job he held for 5 years before going into semi-retirement. Having done some scoreboard work at PGA Tour events and the Junior World, Long Beach Open Director and Long Beach Golf Hall of Fame member Chris Neal asked Walt to come up and do the Scoreboard for the Long Beach Open in 1992. He and his collection of red, black, blue and green ink pens and impeccable penmanship have been a mainstay of the Long Beach Open and hundreds of scoreboard watchers ever since.
Emeritus Class inductees:
Ernest F. “Ernie” Combs” – At the age of 15, Ernie Combs won the California Junior Championship at Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey. At the age of 17, he partnered with reigning British Open Champion Walter Hagen to defeat Leo Deigel and former state junior champion Les Hensley. Ernie won numerous events at match play and in stroke play had several rounds that were course records at the time including Virginia CC and Catalina Island CC. He won the 1933 Men’s City (Match Play) Championship.
Irving Cooper – Irv was a Wilson HS graduate, who also played at Long Beach City College. He won two LB City Junior Championships and the 1952 Long Beach City (Match Play) Championship. At one time he held the course record at Recreation Park GC of 63. He was the runner up to Long Beach Golf Hall of Fame member Ted Richards in the 1953 US Amateur Public Links Championship at the West Seattle GC (where he set an all-time USGA record with a 12 & 11 victory in the semi-finals). He twice won the Los Angeles City Men’s Championship.
Connie Freeze-Westover Connie was a member of original Long Beach Golf Commission representing the newly opened Skylinks and El Dorado Golf Courses and was one of the people very responsible for creating the Long Beach Women’s City Championship contested over all three of the City’s municipal golf courses.
Henrietta Holden – Henrietta was the driving force behind the establishment of the Women’s Club at Skylinks Golf Course and was the Club’s first appointee to the Long Beach Municipal Golf Commission, where she served for 12 years. She was also one of the women responsible for creating the Long Beach Women’s City Championship.
Joe Nichols – Joe won the Long Beach City (Match Play) Championship in 1930, 1932 and 1934. Joe moved from Long Beach to Arizona to become an instructor and gained some notoriety for teaching the "rotor swing". He taught some of the early members of the LPGA Tour including 1979 US Women's Open champion Jerilyn Britz.
Walter "Boots" Porterfield – Porterfield was the CIF Individual Champion and a member of Wilson High School’s Championship teams in 1942, 1943 and 1944. He turned professional and Apprenticed under George Lake at Recreation Parks GC. He played briefly on the PGA Tour in 1951 before running out of funding, and then took a job at Milwaukee CC for Manuel de la Torre. He won the 1954 Wisconsin State Open Championship played at his home course. He moved from Milwaukee to Oregon and worked at several clubs in the Eugene and Grants Pass areas. He passed away March 9, 2012.
Anne Wallace-Hedley – Anne began playing at the age of 11, after taking lessons from fellow Hall of Fame member Monty Blodgett who was the head professional at Virginia CC where her family had a membership. She won numerous So Cal Junior Golf Association tournaments, but in the pre-Title IX era of the late 1960s, there was no place for her to play golf in high school. After being denied the ability to try out for the Long Beach Poly High School golf team, Anne was part of a group of 6 girls (including Laura Baugh) to file grievances against the local and state CIF, that eventually dovetailed into the passage of Title IX – although she was already out of high school. She was a 4-time winner of the Virginia Club Championship, two-time winner of the El Niguel Club Championship and numerous top 3 finishes in city championships throughout the southland, and won the 1981 Mid-Winter Championship at the Los Angeles Country Club. In 1988, Anne was the first woman to apply for a Junior Membership at Virginia CC, but was rejected only to become the first female member of Old Ranch Country Club in 1990. In 1993 she began writing fiction and was published in numerous national magazines and had columns and articles published in the Orange County Golf Magazine and LA Times Magazine.
As always, the Long Beach Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will follow the conclusion of the $165,000 Long Beach Open professional golf tournament at El Dorado Park GC on August 2, 2015, at approximately 2:30 p.m.
Contact: Bob Livingstone (562) 570-3122
With the addition of these ten individuals, the Long Beach Golf Hall of Fame now has 79 members.
1996: Marlene Bauer-Hagge, Bev Brines, Jane Burnsed, Tom Crosby, Paul Goydos,
Betty Hicks, Adeline Jones, George Lake, Frank Newell, Jr., Millie Stanley, Del
Walker, Marty Walker
1997: Laura Baugh, Sue Ewart, Marge Ferrie, Mark O’Meara
1998: Ralph Cryder, Doug Ives, Len Kennett, Chris Neal
1999: Alice Bauer, John Clock, Harlan “Pinky” Stevenson
2000: Harriet Glanville, Ruth Miller, Joe Robinson
2001: Tom Frost, Dan Gooch, Bob Livingstone, Jamie Mulligan
2002: Roland Davis, B. K. Jones, Les Padfield, Eldrick “Tiger” Woods
2003: Roger Cleveland, Monty Blodgett, Shirley Johnston, Wilbur W. “Bud” Lorbeer
2004: Mike Krantz, Mike Miles, Kemp Richardson
2005: Gordon Olson, Pearl Sinn-Bonanni
2006: Lisa Georgeson, Don Knabe, John Richardson, Bob San Jose
2007: Rudy Duran, Gwenn Hibbs, John Mansell
2008: Craig Kessler, Jeff Manson, Terry Small
2009: John Mallinger, John Merrick, Peter Tomasulo
2010: Bob Chaffee, James Oh, Ted Richards
2011: Steve Cook, Kathy Eaton, John Tate
2012: Trevor Baker, Dave Stanley
2013: Robin Bellamy, John McCann, Dennis Wright
2014: Greg Hetzer, Phil Kessler
2015: Richard “Dick” Linares, Walt Willows
EMERITUS CLASS: Ernie Combs, Irving Cooper, Connie Freeze-Westover, Henrietta Holden, Joe Nichols, Walter Boots Porterfield and Anne Wallace-Hedley,