The world of golf lost some real treasures in 2020.
Golfers, golf course designers, golf coaches and golf photographers are among those we lost. Pete Dye, Mickey Wright, Doug Sanders, Cullan Brown and Leonard Kamsler were among those who passed away this year.
They are among those who have left their mark on the game and won’t soon be forgotten.
Jan. 2: J.L. Lewis, 59, was a two-time winner on the PGA Tour in the late 1990s and early 2000s. A star athlete in high school, Lewis earned a scholarship to Emporia State and then transferred to Texas State University, where he was a member of the 1983 Division II national championship team and finished runner-up as an individual. Lewis turned pro in 1984 and earned his first PGA Tour victory at the 1999 John Deere Classic. He earned his second win at the 84 Lumber Classic of Pennsylvania in 2003.
Jan. 2: Randy Lein, 69, was one of the most successful coaches in men’s college golf. He led Arizona State’s men’s golf program to eight conference titles during an 18-year run, from 2003-2010. His Sun Devils went to the postseason in all but one of those 18 seasons.
Jan. 7: Tom Drennan spent 22 years as the head golf coach at the University of Rhode Island. Drennan, 81, spent a combined 50 years coaching at the high school, junior college and NCAA Division I levels.
Jan. 7: Jimmy Vickers won the 1952 NCAA individual title at Oklahoma. He made many contributions to golf throughout his life as both a player and a member of various advisory boards. He remained an amateur over the years. “I relish the amateur game,” Vickers told NCAA.org in May 2013, “Everything I ever wanted to do in the game of golf, I was able to do.”
Jan. 9: World Golf Hall of Fame member Pete Dye designed some of the world’s most famous golf courses. He died at age 94. Born in Urbana, Ohio, he lived most of his life in Indianapolis. He was an elite amateur golfer and played in the 1957 U.S. Open, where he finished ahead of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. And he never let them forget it. Dye originally was an insurance man before transitioning into golf course design in the 1960s and becoming one of golf’s most influential designers.
Feb. 10: Former Texas women’s golf coach Pat Weis died in Austin, Texas, at the age of 89. She began the Texas women’s program in 1969 and coached the Longhorns for 20 years from 1973-93. The women’s team became an official university team during that first year of her tenure.
Feb. 17: Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson called Mickey Wright’s swing the greatest they’d ever seen – man or woman. Wright won 82 tournaments on the LPGA, including 13 majors, and rare footage of her swing serves as the epicenter of the USGA Museum’s Mickey Wright Room, home to more than 200 artifacts that Wright helped to box up from her Florida villa and ship to Far Hills, New Jersey. She was 85.
March 8: John Merchant, the first black person to be elected to the USGA’s executive committee and a former unpaid counsel to Tiger Woods, died at age 87 after a long illness, his daughter, Susan, announced on Facebook. “My dear Pop left peacefully to play the back nine,” she wrote. “My heart is heavy and I will miss him beyond measure.”
April 12: Doug Sanders, winner of 20 PGA Tour events, was 86 when he died in Houston from natural causes. Sanders was born in Georgia, the fourth of five children, and taught himself the game. The Sanders home was near a nine-hole golf course and he developed a swing so short that writers used to joke he could take his club back in a phone booth. Sanders earned $13,500 for a PGA Tour victory in 1966 and years later said he was still amazed at the money to be won on the PGA Tour in the current era. “Phil Mickelson made more from finishing second at the Masters one year than I did for my career,” he said.
May 4: Guy Wimberly was a trailblazer in New Mexico golf. He made major contributions to the game in the southwest. He died at the age of 81. He was a longtime PGA professional and one of the founding fathers of the Sun Country PGA Section. In fact, he was nicknamed “Mr. New Mexico Golf.” Wimberly played college golf at the University of New Mexico, where he won a Western Athletic Conference title and earned the distinction of being an All-American.
May 8: Billy Farrell embodied what might be a motto for his family, a fixture in PGA circles across multiple generations. “It was an honor (for him) to serve golf, not the other way around,” said his niece, Mary Kay Willson. Farrell competed in 70 PGA Tour events, spent 37 years as the head professional at Connecticut’s Stanwich Club and struck up friendships with legends Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus while a PGA Touring Professional, according to an online obituary that ran in the Greenwich Time. The sport was a way for Farrell’s father, Johnny Farrell, the 1928 U.S. Open champion, to climb out of poverty, Willson said. William “Billy” Farrell died May 8 from coronavirus. He was 84.
May 9: Sidney Beckwith broke his age nearly 1,500 times in his life. “But I tell people I’m all rusted.” Beckwith passed away peacefully at Brandley Hospice House in Summerfield, Florida, on May 9, but not before living a dream for many golfers – I’d like to live long enough to shoot my age for 18 just once and then I can die in peace. He did it countless times. He was the epitome of the golf saying that “We don’t stop playing the game because we get old; we get old because we stop playing the game.”
July 5: Sean Fredrickson, 48, was the Pacific Northwest PGA Section President. He died while aboard one of two airplanes carrying at least eight people which collided above an Idaho lake. Part of a message the section posted on its website read: “Sean was an incredible father, husband, PGA Professional, mentor, and leader. There are never words to communicate the pain of such a loss. “
July 9: Loyal (Bud) Chapman, the artist behind a series of fantasy golf holes tickling the utmost borders of imagination, died of a heart attack in Minnesota. The Minnesota Star Tribune first reported the news. He was 97. Chapman is best known for creating the “18 Infamous Golf Holes,” a series of outlandish golf holes inspired by exotic locales such as the Grand Canyon, Lake Superior and Africa’s Victoria Falls. “Why not paint 18 of the greatest golf holes that nobody can conceive and paint them so real that nobody will even know if they’re real or not?” he once told the Tribune.
Aug. 4: Kentucky golfer Cullan Brown died less than a year after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer in his left thigh. He was 20. Only weeks after Brown made the cut at the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship, finishing 10 under, the team announced that he would be stepping away from the 2019-20 season to start chemotherapy.
Aug. 20: Vartan Kupelian, a long-time Detroit News reporter who spent decades as one of the most respected golf writers in the country and who figured he had covered 168 major championships spanning all the tours throughout his career, died Thursday. He was 73.
Nov. 17: From Bobby Jones to Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods, Leonard Kamsler photographed just about every great golfer over a career that spanned seven decades. He was a fixture behind the lens at Augusta National, working 40 consecutive Masters from 1963 until 2002. He also worked 22 U.S. Opens and 17 PGA Championships. But Kamsler also took portraits, snapped candid moments, captured images for equipment and travel stories and developed specialized tools for taking high-speed images in an era when magazines relied on slide film, and you never knew what you had until it was developed in a dark room.
Dec. 6: While golf fans in the United States have been spoiled over the years by having three of the game’s major championships played in America, lovers of the game in the United Kingdom have had something else to brag about: Peter Alliss’ insightful, humorous and beautifully intoned commentary on the British Broadcast Corporation. Alliss, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012, died at age 89, according to a statement from his family. “Peter was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and his family ask for privacy at this difficult time,” the family wrote, according to the BBC.
Dec. 29: Mary Fossum, the first coach of the Michigan State women’s golf program and six-time Big Ten Conference champion, has died at the age of 93. Fossum coached the Spartans from 1973 until her retirement in 1997. In between, MSU won six Big Ten titles – five straight between 1974-78 and again in 1982 – and played in the national championships eight times.
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Remembering those we lost from the world of golf in 2020
https://golfweek.usatoday.com/lists/golf-figures-who-died-2020/ Remembering those we lost from the world of golf in 2020