Patti Benson Ready for LPGA T&CP Hall of Fame Induction
Patti Benson is one of four members who will be inducted into the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional (T&CP) Hall of Fame this fall.
Honored as individuals who have contributed to the LPGA and to the golf industry, the LPGA T&CP Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held on November 14, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Fla.
Benson served as the LPGA T&CP National President from 2002-2009. Daughter of golf professionals Bob Prentiss (PGA of America Life member) and the late Betty Prentiss (LPGA Life member), Benson became a member of the LPGA in 1979. She earned her LPGA Class A status as a teaching professional in 1983 and served as an LPGA National Evaluator from 1989-2000, and as a Section Member Advisor.
Founder and operator of the Bobby and Patti Benson Golf Shop at Palm Beach Country Club with husband Bobby, she has served in numerous leadership roles within the LPGA, including three terms as Southeast Section President and three terms as National President. Benson has been awarded various honors over the years, including distinction as the 1997 LPGA Southeast Section Professional of the Year, recipient of the 2002 LPGA Southeast Section Eagle Award (given “to those who lead so that others may succeed”) and the 2009 Nancy Lopez Golf Achievement Award.
A survivor of ovarian cancer, Benson was also named the 2010 LPGA Southeast Section Teacher of the Year. She continues to serve as a member of the LPGA Extended Bylaws Committee and remains active in the LPGA T&CP.
Here is what Benson had to say to LPGA senior writer, Lisa D. Mickey, about her career and her induction into the LPGA T&CP Hall of Fame this year:
LPGA: What does it mean to you to be inducted into the LPGA T&CP Hall of Fame?
BENSON: I’m extremely humbled and very excited about it. When I joined the LPGA 37 years ago, I never dreamed I’d get into the Hall of Fame. I don’t think we even had a Hall of Fame back then. I’ve been blessed.
LPGA: Is this the crowing achievement in your career?
BENSON: As far as my golf career goes, yes, it’s the pinnacle.
LPGA: What individuals influenced you the most in your career?
BENSON My mother and father introduced me to golf when I was old enough to walk. Bobby Strickland, the director of golf at Northdale Golf Club in Tampa, Fla., was the one who said, “Why don’t you turn pro?” That was in 1979, and I was the shop manager there. I guess he saw something in me that I didn’t know existed. He wanted me to teach and told me about the LPGA teaching division. I didn’t even know the T&CP existed. My husband Bobby [a Class A PGA Professional] also influenced my career, both as a player and as a teacher. He was looking for an LPGA teaching professional and hired me to work at Palm Beach Country Club in 1982. We later got married. And then I would say Kay McMahon really helped me. She was the LPGA T&CP Western Section President. I met her at a national seminar, and we struck up a friendship. Eventually, I became the Southeast Section President, and Kay and I were on the executive committee together. I could call her any time and ask for help. She helped guide me and helped me become a leader.
LPGA: What do you think is the most valuable contribution by LPGA T&CP members?
BENSON: I think we have to be very vocal to our students and clients that there is an LPGA teaching division and that we are truly educated in teaching golf. In fact, we excel at it and bring value to the golf industry. Most people don’t understand that there is a difference in being an LPGA Tour member and a member of the LPGA T&CP.
LPGA: How can teaching and club professionals impact the game?
BENSON : We are educated in teaching golf, and we can inspire juniors to play the game and see it as a game they can play for a lifetime. I think we have to get kids involved in golf and let them have fun and find their own way.
LPGA : What does the T&CP do well as an organization?
BENSON : Education. We teach golf teachers that it’s really all about what the student wants. We should ask each student: why are they here? What is their goal? It’s all about them.
LPGA : What do you think makes a good teacher?
BENSON : Having fun and truly caring about your students. It has to be about serving others. I use an acronym of TINY – Their Interests, Not Yours. It’s all about the students, and what they need. If we always put their interests ahead of ours, that’s what makes a good teacher.
LPGA : What was your best lesson as the president of the LPGA T&CP?
BENSON : There were many lessons, but maybe the best one I learned is that we are all people, no matter where we are from, what our beliefs are, or what our life choices may be. Everyone just wants to be appreciated, included and heard. I hope that during my eight years as the LPGA T&CP National President, our membership felt appreciated, understood and included.
LPGA : What would your mom think about your Hall of Fame induction?
BENSON : I know my mom would be very proud and thrilled. I’m sure she had something to do with making it happen! She guided me along the way all of my life. She was a golf mom, and she drove me to tournaments when I was growing up in Ohio. Even when I played on the Futures Tour, she helped me when I was so homesick. I eventually learned that I couldn’t travel like that week after week by myself. We didn’t have cell phones back then. But I found something I really loved in teaching golf, and my mom was the one who helped broaden my interests and my career.
LPGA : Is it true that you worked at a club in Tampa, Fla., that hosted the very first Futures Tour tournament?
BENSON : We were one of the first, if not the first club to host the Futures Tour back in the early 1980s when it was the Tampa Bay Mini-Tour. I worked at Northdale Country Club in Tampa and [Futures Tour founder] Eloise Trainor worked down the road at Saddlebrook Resort.
LPGA : How is your life different as a cancer survivor?
BENSON : I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 38 in 1998 and underwent chemotherapy and surgery. Next January, I will be cancer free for 13 years. Now I’m more in tune with my body and how I feel. I’m on a huge mission to inspire others to help them understand that good nutrition and exercise are paramount to good health. I also got involved with a product called “Juice Plus+” that helped me get my energy level back. I don’t think I would be as passionate about good health and proper nutrition if I hadn’t gotten cancer.
LPGA : You are being inducted into the Hall of Fame with a pretty impressive group of women. How do you feel about that?
BENSON : I am honored to be inducted with this group. Jane Read was really the first president of the T&CP. Carol Johnson is just a spitfire in our organization and Kay McMahon had so much to do with my career. I also want to thank the LPGA’s founders who had a dream and didn’t let anybody sway them. Without their dream and vision, we certainly would not be here today.
About the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Hall of Fame
The LPGA Teaching and Club Professional (T&CP) membership, founded in 1959, boasts the largest membership of women golf professionals in the world at nearly 1400 members. LPGA T&CP members are certified as golf instructors, coaches and business managers through a comprehensive curriculum designed to meet the changing needs of the golfing public.
The LPGA Teaching and Club Professional (T&CP) Hall of Fame, established in 2000, is the highest honor given to teaching and club professional members for extraordinary membership service and leadership while contributing to the game of golf and the golf industry.
Four new inductees, Patty Benson, Kay McMahon, Carol Clark Johnson and Jane Read will join current LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals already in the Hall of Fame. They are as follows (listed in order of induction): Peggy Kirk Bell, Marilynn Smith, Patty Berg, Shirley Spork, Betty Hicks, Louise Suggs, Goldie Bateson, Ellen Griffin, Dr. DeDe Owens, Joanne Winter, Ann Casey Johnstone, S. Annette Thompson, Kerry Graham, Lorraine Klippel, Pat Lange and Penny Zavichas.