Photo: Babe Lichardus congratulates Billy Ziobro at the 1971 Dodge Open.
New Jersey’s rich golf history will be celebrated in grand fashion on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, when nine of the state’s most decorated players and impactful contributors will be inducted into the New Jersey State Golf Association Hall of Fame. The second annual Hall of Fame ceremony and reception will take place at Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth, home of the NJSGA’s headquarters.
The Class of 2019 boasts some of the Garden State’s most prominent players as well as several contributors who have made a unique and lasting impact on the game of golf. This year’s nine inductees will be Leo Fraser, Bobby Jacobson, Babe Lichardus, Joe McBride, Dorothy Porter, Jeff Thomas, Dennis Walters, Craig Wood and Billy Ziobro.
“The nine individuals elected to the NJSGA Hall of Fame this year, like those in our inaugural class, have had a tremendous impact on the game of golf in New Jersey. We’re looking forward to recognizing their accomplishments and contributions at our induction ceremony on May 1,” NJSGA president William Frese said.
A salute to the 119 years of the association’s history, the NJSGA Hall of Fame was established in 2018 with 16 original honorees. The inaugural class included professionals Johnny Farrell, Vic Ghezzi and Byron Nelson, plus legendary amateurs, Carolyn Cudone, Charlotte Glutting, Bob Housen, Maureen Orcutt, Chet Sanok, Jerome Travers and Charles Whitehead.
Other inductees include renowned architect A.W. Tillinghast; groundbreaking African-American golf professional John Shippen; noted journalist Arthur (Red) Hoffman; Dr. Ralph Engel, founder of the Rutgers' Professional Golf Turf Management School, and benefactors William Y. Dear (youth golf pioneer), and Nestor J. MacDonald (founder of NJSGA Caddie Scholarship Foundation).
The NJSGA Hall of Fame was established to recognize and enshrine men and women who, as New Jersey natives or residents at their time of achievement, have impacted New Jersey golf and/or have made extraordinary contributions to the game through competitive and non-competitive accomplishments.
The mission is to honor New Jersey's finest amateur and professional golf competitors, as well as those who have made outstanding contributions in other areas of golf such as architects, journalists, superintendents, mentors, volunteers and others. NJSGA Hall of Fame members are memorialized by a display inside the NJSGA headquarters in addition to biographies featured on the NJSGA web site.
A look at the NJSGA Hall of Fame Class of 2019:
Leo Fraser (1910-1986)
Leo Fraser played a transcendent role in professional golf in America. Without Fraser’s guidance, the PGA of America and the PGA Tour might not be the thriving organizations they are today.
During his term as president of the PGA of America in 1969-70, Fraser helped bridge the gap between club professionals and touring pros over a long-running dispute that centered on distribution of the rapidly growing television revenue from tour events. As part of this reconciliation, Fraser appointed Joe Dey as the first commissioner of the Tournament Players Division of the PGA, known today as the PGA Tour.
Fraser purchased Atlantic City Country Club, which he managed from 1945 until his death in 1986. During his ownership, Fraser was instrumental in attracting three U.S. Women's Opens (1948, ’65 and ‘75) to ACCC. In addition, Fraser hosted the 1967 Women's Senior Amateur. In 1980, the first tournament of what would become the Champions Tour (then known as the Senior PGA Tour) was held at the Atlantic City Country Club.
Robert J. “Bobby” Jacobson (1917-2006)
Jacobson was a two-time NJSGA Amateur champion (1955, ’56) and a two-time NJSGA Junior Champion (1934, ’35). He was twice runner-up in the Amateur, losing to Billy Dear in 1950 and Chet Sanok in 1951.
In his second round at the 1934 U.S. Amateur, Jacobson, then 16, defeated Johnny Goodman, the 1933 U.S. Open champion on the first playoff hole. He lost in the fourth round to eventual runner-up Spec Goldman.
In 1960, Jacobson became – at age 43 – the youngest NJSGA president. He and his NJSGA predecessor, Fred Compher, conceived the idea of the Compher Cup, which soon became an annual competition between teams representing the Golf Association of Philadelphia and the NJSGA.
Milton “Babe” Lichardus (1926-2007)
In a professional career that spanned more than 50 years, Lichardus compiled one of the greatest playing records of any New Jersey club professional.
He won four NJSGA Open titles, the last at age 42. When ‘The Babe’ won in 1971 at Montclair Golf Club, he shot 72 in an 18-hole playoff to defeat Bob Benning of Plainfield by six shots. At the time, he became the first player to win four NJSGA Open championships. He was also NJSGA Open runner-up on three occasions.
In addition, Lichardus won five New Jersey PGA Section championships, two NJPGA Clambake titles and numerous other events. In recognition of his spectacular record, Lichardus was named NJPGA Player of the Decade for both the 1950s and the 1960s.
Joseph McBride (1919-2005)
The patriarch of a prominent New Jersey golf family and a member of Arcola Country Club, McBride compiled one of the most impressive competitive records in the history of the NJSGA, winning the NJSGA Amateur four times.
Nationally, he competed in seven U.S. Amateur Championships and one Senior Amateur Championship, was a Walker Cup Match alternate (1949) and was twice a finalist in the North & South Amateur in Pinehurst (1949 and ’54).
With son Terry, the McBrides won the Metropolitan Golf Association Father & Son Championship in 1964, ‘65, and ‘66. With son Mike, Joe won a fourth Father & Son in 1970. The MGA’s trophy for their Father & Son Championship was recently renamed the McBride Cup.
Dorothy Germain Porter (1924-2012)
Born in Philadelphia on April 3, 1924, Dorothy Germain Porter lived the majority of her adult life in Southern New Jersey, playing out of the Riverton Country Club until her death in 2012. Her five USGA national championships have her tied for sixth-most among women.
When she won the last of her four U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur titles in 1983, the 34-year span from the date of her victory in the 1949 U.S. Women’s Amateur became the longest in USGA history for women. She won the Philadelphia Amateur in six different decades; the last in 1992 at the age of 68. In 1964, Porter won the NJSGA Women’s Amateur Championship.
Jeff Thomas (1958-2003)
Jeff Thomas dominated New Jersey’s amateur golf scene in the 1980s, when he won five of his unprecedented eight NJSGA Amateur Championships (1981, ’83, ’85, ’87, and ’88). He added three more Amateur titles in 1990, 1991 and 1994, far surpassing any other golfer. In addition, Thomas was runner-up five times in the NJSGA Amateur.
Thomas, playing out of Plainfield West 9, became the finest New Jersey amateur golfer during the period 1975 through 2000, putting an exclamation point on that reference when he won the 1993 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, earning an automatic berth into 1994 Masters. Thomas was runner-up in the 1996 U.S. Public Links. Overall, he qualified for 10 U.S. Amateurs.
In 1991, Thomas became the first golfer to win the NJSGA Amateur and Mid-Amateur in the same year.
Dennis Walters (1949- ) The inspirational Dennis Walters, a native of Neptune, N.J., has become one of golf’s most well-known celebrities. He has turned the tragedy of being paralyzed from the waist down at age 24 from a golf-cart accident into a personal mission to teach golf and life lessons to a worldwide audience. The USGA bestowed its highest honor, the Bob Jones Award, on Walters -- now a resident of Jupiter, Fla. -- last June. This summer, he will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
In 1967, at the age of 17, Walters won the NJSGA Junior Championship, the NJSGA Caddie Championship and the New Jersey Public Links Junior Championship, an unprecedented triple crown. He attended North Texas State on a golf scholarship and finished 11th in the 1971 U.S. Amateur Championship. In 1972, he was co-runner-up to Art Silvestrone Sr. at the NJSGA State Open. He had just reached the final stage of the PGA Tour’s Qualifying School in 1973 when the golf-cart accident changed his life.
Craig Wood (1901-1968) Truly one of the world’s best golfers during his era, Wood spent eight of his most competitive seasons as a head professional in New Jersey, serving at Forest Hill Field Club in Bloomfield from 1928-31 and at Hollywood Golf Club in Deal from 1932-35.
During that time, Wood won a New Jersey section PGA championship (1932), a NJSGA State Open (1934), and finished second in the U.S. Open (1935). He was also victimized by Gene Sarazen’s unbelievable double eagle in the 1935 Masters, where he finished second following a 36-hole playoff. He played on three U.S. Ryder Cup teams (1931, ’33, ’35) while employed as the head professional at Hollywood.
Many fans of the game, however, remember the "Blond Bomber" as the "jinxed" golfer who lost the 1933 British Open in a 36-hole playoff, lost the 1934 Masters by a single shot, and lost the 1934 PGA Championship in match play to his one-time student and future Hall of Famer, Paul Runyan.
Wood, a native of Lake Placid, N.Y., won a total of 21 PGA Tour championship events including the Masters (1941) and the U.S. Open (1941).
Billy Ziobro (1948- )
Ziobro’s amateur career culminated at the age of 21 when he won both the NJSGA Amateur and Open in 1970. At the Amateur, Ziobro played the final 18 holes in seven under par coming from six down to beat Jeff Alpert in the final match.
Playing out of Ash Brook Golf Course, he is the first player in NJSGA history to win the Amateur, Open and Junior championships. Ziobro is one of only two golfers to win the NJSGA Amateur and Open in the same year (Charles Whitehead, 1942).
He won his first professional event, the Dodge Open, at Rockaway River in the spring of 1971. Ziobro has competed in five U.S. Opens, making two cuts, and played on the PGA Tour from 1971-1977, where he collected ten top-10 finishes. He made the cut at The Players Championship and played in the PGA and Senior PGA Championships. Ziobro has also won the New Jersey PGA Section championship, two Dodge Opens and the Vermont Open.
In what has become a homecoming for those who love New Jersey golf, the NJSGA is proud to honor these wonderful players and contributors with induction to its Hall of Fame. Tickets for the 2nd NJSGA Hall of Fame ceremony will be available for purchase on Friday, March 1 through the NJSGA web site: www.njsga.org.