Coleen Luker, long-time chairperson of the New Jersey State Golf Association Women’s Committee, received the prestigious Judy Bell Award, which recognizes significant contributions to women’s and junior golf in the Metropolitan area by the Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association at its annual meeting on Thursday, October 27, at Metropolis Country club in White Plains, N.Y.
In 2008, she was instrumental in merging the New Jersey State Women’s Golf Committee with the NJSGA and in 2011, she became the first woman to serve on the NJSGA Board, serving as Women’s Committee Chair, until 2015.
She succeeded Anna Zorlas as NJSGA Women’s Committee chairperson in 2010 and guided a successful committee that now oversees seven women’s championships. Ms. Luker’s goal has always been to have more New Jersey women of all ages involved in golf.
"No one has done more to advance women's golf in New Jersey in recent years than Coleen. She has been a great contributor to our Board, the Tournament and Women's Committees for many years. Coleen is truly a gem, " said Dan Meehan, NJSGA president
Ms. Luker, who joined the WMGA in 1978, continues to be a significant fixture in New Jersey golf serving on the Board of the Garden State Women’s Golf Association, including as President in 1996 to 1997. From 1998 to 2002, Coleen served on the New Jersey State Women's Golf Committee as the Junior Amateur Tournament Director.
She rejoined the committee in 2004 as the Senior Amateur Tournament Director before taking over as Chairperson in 2010.
“I’m honored. I never expected it. I first got involved with the WMGA as a player. I have worked with many people and I have been part of many boards and committees. While sometimes it was work, it always been a great experience for me. With the confidence I gained from the women on the (NJSGA) Women's Committee - taking all their opinions, ideas and questions to the NJSGA Board and staff - we together not only made it work - but it has flourished and I believe everyone in the organization is very proud and happy it did.
“One of my biggest highlights over the years has been watching young female golfers become successful. Handing out trophies to championship winners has always been exciting to me.
“I started as a player, and I have always loved golf and wanted to stay around it. Serving the various boards and committees has allowed me to stay connected to the players as the years have gone on. I always wanted to be part of all that golf offers,” said the Farmingdale resident.
In 2013, the NJSGA and MGA each received the Judy Bell Award and Ms. Luker and NJSGA president Frank O’Brien were in attendance as WMGA president Amy Hyman presented the award.
The WMGA established the Judy Bell Award in 1997, with Ann Beard of Essex Fells, a USGA rules official and former WMGA president, the first recipient. The award is permanently housed at WMGA headquarters in Elmsford, N.Y.
Prior to joining Bella Vista, Ms. Luker (nee Ullman) was a member of Beacon Hill Country Club, winning the club championship 12 times. She was also team captain, playing in WMGA Team Matches for Beacon Hill for over 32 years.
From 1988 to 1992, Coleen served on the WMGA Board as Tee Talk chair and then Shore Tournament Chair. She also served as the chair of the WMGA Nominating Committee in 2008. She was a member of the 1988 WMGA Griscom Cup team, a semi-finalist in the 1982 WMGA Match Play Championship, won the WMGA Sis Choate Pinehurst twice (1990 & 1992) and she also won the WMGA Sister-Brother Championship twice (1981 and 1983).
Ms. Luker won the Garden State Women’s Golf Association Better Ball of Partners four times (1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988) and the GSWGA Pinehurst Championship (1999).
Bell served as Consulting Director for the USGA Grants & Fellowship department which operates the Association’s “For the Good of the Game” Grants Initiative. Since 1997, this initiative has provided more than $65 million to organizations across the United States that conduct golf programs for underserved children and individuals with disabilities, including nearly $2 million to Girls Golf.
Bell, a lifelong golfer, joined the USGA in 1961 as part of the USGA U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship Committee. She has held a variety of positions within the USGA and, in 1987, was the first woman elected to the USGA’s Executive Committee. On Jan. 27, 1996, she was elected as the 54th president of the USGA – the first woman to hold that position. Current USGA president Diana Murphy is the second.