The next induction class into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame will be much different than the last one, which was enshrined in 2019. The next class celebrates the playing accomplishments of both the male and female stars.
On the women’s side there was Bessie Anthony, who was one of the nation’s top stars in the early years of American golf. On the men’s there’s Gary Pinns – the only player to win the Illinois Open five times. While Illinois has had some great players since the sport was first played here in 1892, few have rivaled the playing success of Anthony and Pinns.
Also being enshrined at The Glen Club in October will be renowned swing guru Dr. Jim Suttie; Mason Phelps, a two-time Western Amateur champion; Herbert James Tweedie, who designed the first nine holes of the original Chicago Golf Club; and Phil Kosin, creator of both Chicagoland Golf magazine and the Illinois Women’s Open.
The IWO celebrates its 26th staging in July at Mistwood Golf Club, in Romeoville, but it may never have a player the caliber of Anthony. Playing out of the long gone Westward Ho club, she was the first Chicago area woman to make her mark on the world stage.
An Evanston resident and the daughter of a Chicago lawyer, Anthony Helped found the Women’s Western Golf Association and then won its first three tournaments from 1901-03. In 1903 she won the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Chicago Golf Club, beating another Chicago player – Anna Carpenter – by a whopping 7 and 6 margin in the title match.
That was basically it for Anthony’s golf career. She had announced her engagement before winning the national title and opted not to made a title defense after getting married. There’s no telling how many more titles she might have won had she remained competitive.
Pinns remained competitive for a long time. He strung his five Illinois Open titles over three decades, winning the first as an amateur in 1978, then winning the next three in the 1980s. The last one – in 1990 – was especially memorable as it came at Village Links of Glen Ellyn, his home course and the club where his brother Doug was a teaching pro.
Among Pinns’ other victories were the 1974 Illinois high school title and the 1977 Illinois State Amateur crown.
After a solid amateur career Pinns took a crack at the PGA Tour before returning to Chicago where he established himself as one of the area’s top teaching pros. He was the 2014 Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year and was director of instruction at Oak Brook Golf Club for 27 years.
This year’s 27 nominees were whittled to the final 10 in the first selection meeting of a state-wide panel representing all of Illinois’ major golf organization. The six survivors were chosen after the second selection session on Tuesday night.
“The committee worked very hard to select this group from an outstanding roster of candidates,’’ said selection committee chairman Tim Cronin. “They range from the early days of the game in the state to today. Each has been recognized as a leader in their aspect of golf.’’
The inductees will be enshrined on Oct. 1 at The Glen Club, in Glenview, which houses the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.