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Peggy Kirk Bell, shown here during the 2002 PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit, has been a tireless contributor to the game of golf. (Photo: The PGA of America)
Peggy Kirk Bell, shown here during the 2002 PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit, has been a tireless contributor to the game of golf. (Photo: The PGA of America)

Bell to receive 2007 PGA First Lady of Golf Award

LPGA Charter Member Peggy Kirk Bell, a pioneer in the development of the modern golf school and one of America's foremost golf instructors, has been named recipient of the 2007 PGA First Lady of Golf Award.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- LPGA Charter Member Peggy Kirk Bell, a pioneer in the development of the modern golf school and one of America's foremost golf instructors, has been named recipient of the 2007 PGA First Lady of Golf Award.

A native of Findlay, Ohio, Bell will be honored on May 23, 2007, in a 7 p.m. EDT ceremony at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island (S.C.) Golf Resort. The Award presentation will be held in conjunction with the 68th Senior PGA Championship, May 24-27, 2007, on the famous Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

Bell, 85, is the owner of Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club and Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club, both in Southern Pines, N.C. Bell and her late husband, Warren "Bullet" Bell purchased the then-Pine Needles Golf Course in 1953, a site that will host its third U.S. Women's Open, June 28-July 4, 2007.

"Peggy Kirk Bell embodies the word 'giver' when it comes to devoting one's life to the betterment of others in golf," said PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb. "Peggy's career was inspired by such legends as Glenna Collett Vare, a premier player, and Patty Berg, the game's preeminent ambassador. And, by their example, Peggy elevated herself and developed the golf school concept into an industry that has extended the careers of teaching professionals and introduced golf to thousands who would otherwise not take the time to learn to play this great game. The PGA of America is very proud to present Peggy with the PGA First Lady of Golf Award."

Born Peggy Kirk, the daughter of Bob and Grace Kirk of Findlay, Ohio, she began playing golf at age 17. Peggy attended Boston University's Sargent College of Physical Education (1939-41), and graduated with a degree in education from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., in 1943.

She became one of the finest amateur players in Ohio, where she went on to win three-consecutive Ohio Women's Amateur Championships (1947-49); the 1949 North and South Women's Championship; and the 1949 Titleholders Championship (an event that is listed as a former LPGA major Championship). Bell competed on the victorious 1950 Curtis Cup Team, which was captained by Vare, a five-time National Champion.

Bell teamed with Babe Didrikson Zaharias to win the 1947 International Four-Ball. In 1950, Bell turned professional and became a charter member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association.

"It is a tremendous honor to be recipient of this Award," said Bell. "I think about those who have gone before me, including Patty Berg, and I feel very fortunate. The PGA of America is the backbone of the game. They are the teachers of golf and guardians for its welfare."

When the Bells purchased Pine Needles, Peggy began a unique series of golf schools titled "Golfari," a project that blossomed into one of the most popular resort destinations for aspiring students of the game. The Bells worked as a team in operating Pine Needles Resort. Warren Bell, a former professional basketball player for the Ft. Wayne (now Detroit) Pistons, passed away in 1984, but Peggy continued the momentum at the resort by attracting both students and some of the finest PGA and LPGA teaching professionals.

Today, Pine Needles employs 25 golf instructors throughout the year, who guide three youth camps of approximately 80 junior boys and girls; and adult camps ranging from 100-150 students from February-September.

"We believe in shifting teachers for the camps, and we have marvelous teachers in our program," said Bell. "The key is for students to come in and find those individuals whom they like, and with whom they feel comfortable to help them."

In January 2004, Bell was the first woman inductee in GOLF Magazine's World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame. She has been honored by the Magazine as one of the Top 100 Teachers in America from 2001-2005; and by Golf For Women Magazine as one of its Top 50 Teachers from 1999-2005. She was inducted into the LPGA Teaching Division Hall of Fame in 2000.

Throughout her career as a player and resort owner, Bell has been a tireless contributor to the game of golf. She has been the recipient of numerous major awards including: the 1990 USGA Bob Jones Award, 1993 Golf Writers Association of America's William Richardson Award, the LPGA's 1989 Ellen Griffin Rolex Award, 1981 National Golf Foundation's Joe Graffis Award and the 1995 National Golf Course Owners Order of Merit. Honored at the 1998 Memorial Tournament, she is a member of the Jack Nicklaus Captain's Club.

Bell is the parent of daughters Bonnie and Peggy Ann; and a son, Kirk, all of Southern Pines; and eight grandchildren. Bonnie is married to former PGA Tour Professional Pat McGowan, who is PGA director of instruction at Pine Needles. Peggy Ann is married to Kelly Miller, chief operating officer of both Pine Needles and Mid Pines. Kirk is married to Holly Spofford, who is vice president of public relations and special projects at Pine Needles and Mid Pines.

The PGA First Lady of Golf Award, inaugurated in 1998, is presented to a woman who has made significant contributions to the promotion of the game of golf.

PGA First Lady of Golf Recipients
1998 Barbara Nicklaus
1999 Judy Rankin
2000 No recipient
2001 Judy Bell
2002 Nancy Lopez
2003 Renee Powell
2004 Alice Dye
2005 Carol Semple Thompson
2006 Kathy Whitworth
2007 Peggy Kirk Bell

Tickets to the 68th Senior PGA Championship are available by calling 800-PGA-GOLF (742-4653), or by visiting www.seniorPGA2007.com.

The PGA of America is the world's largest working sports organization, comprised of 28,000 men and women golf Professionals who are the recognized experts in growing, teaching and managing the game of golf, while serving millions of people throughout its 41 PGA Sections nationwide. Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has enhanced its leadership position in a $62 billion-a-year industry by growing the game of golf through its premier spectator events, world-class education and training programs, significant philanthropic outreach initiatives and award-winning golf promotions. Today's PGA Professional is the public's link to the game, serving an essential role in the operation of golf facilities throughout the country.

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