If you fancy being richly entertained by amusing anecdotes and getting a few life lessons while learning all about the origins of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, then look no further than at Shirley Spork's book, "From Green to Tee", which was published earlier this month.
Spork reflects on her role as one of the LPGA's 13 Founders, writes about her travels to Europe as a young woman in the early 1950s, talks about her fellow competitors on the burgeoning LPGA Tour and relives memories from her various fishing trips to catch trout, marlin and catfish, among many others.
When it comes to golf, Spork has done it all. She has been a collegiate champion, a touring professional, a club professional, a golf course manager, a teacher mentor and has given golf lessons to celebrities such as Harpo Marx, Danny Kaye and Nat King Cole.
A spritely 90-year-old who grew up in Detroit in the 1930s and early 1940s, she was not only one of the LPGA's 13 Founders but also played a pivotal role in establishing the LPGA's Teaching Division.
"It's telling the trials and tribulations of how women's professional golf started, where it went and what I personally did over 67 years to enhance the game and to further the game," Spork told LPGA.com about her book, which was released on Amazon on July 14. All proceeds from the book will benefit junior golf and women's college golf programs.
"I talk about the experiences I had in all phases of the game, from being a head golf professional, a director of golf -- any phase of the game you name I have done except for being a golf course architect. And you don't have to be a golfer to read this book and have fun because it's full of stories, funny stories that happened.
"It tells all about how I taught teachers how to teach golf. I worked with the National Golf Foundation to establish the teaching manuals and the video part of it, the education part of it. It also talks about how I was one of the Founders of both the Tour and the Teaching Division, all the struggles that we went through. It's got everything in it!"
THE FOUNDERS’ VISION
In 1950, Spork and 12 other women had the vision to establish the LPGA and nine years later, with the fledgling Tour having expanded to 29 events spread across a nine-month season, this band of pioneering professionals finally set up the LPGA Teaching Division after overcoming a few roadblocks along the way.
That Teaching Division later became the Teaching and Club Professional Membership and, in partnership with the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf initiative, it has been a driving force behind an astonishing surge in the numbers of under-18 girls taking up the game in the United States since 2010.
For LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, Spork and her fellow Founders represented the very best of women's golf with a prime focus on continually giving back to the game through their own pioneering sacrifices.
"The first time I met Shirley, she gave me very clear and very simple advice -- make sure during your time as Commissioner you do whatever you can to leave the game better for the future of women’s golf. I realized right then what made Shirley so special," said Whan. "Our founders consistently focused on enhancing opportunities for women not only for themselves, but perhaps more importantly, for the young girls who would follow."
A little red-haired girl from Michigan who started out in golf with only a putter, Spork drew early inspiration from Babe Zaharias and Patty Berg, two future Hall of Famers who were also LPGA Founders, but teaching the game became her true vocation.
“I only played part-Tour because I worked half the year and basically played the Tour in the summers and taught golf in the winters,” said Spork, who never won an LPGA title and recorded her career-best finish with a runner-up spot at the 1962 LPGA Championship.
Spork will be signing copies of her book during next month's Solheim Cup in West Des Moines, Iowa -- in the merchandise tent on the Friday and Saturday of competition.