Pro Golf Notes

The PGA of America is renaming its Horton Smith Award after a review of history revealing that Smith defended the Caucasian-only membership clause when he served as PGA president in the 1950s.

HARTFORD, Conn. – The PGA of America board of directors has voted to rename the prestigious Horton Smith Award effective immediately.

The award will be replaced with the new PGA Professional Development Award, honoring a PGA Member for outstanding contributions to professional education.

The PGA board renamed the Horton Smith Award, which had been presented annually since 1965, based upon review of its namesake. Smith, a two-time Masters champion who served as PGA of America president from 1952-54, was a defender of the “Caucasian-only” membership clause, which was included in the PGA Bylaws from 1934-61.

The PGA Professional Development Award retains the previous criteria that showcases individuals who have demonstrated achievements in professional education.

“In renaming the Horton Smith Award, the PGA of America is taking ownership of a failed chapter in our history that resulted in excluding many from achieving their dreams of earning the coveted PGA Member badge and advancing the game of golf,” said PGA of America President Suzy Whaley, a longtime Connecticut resident now living in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. “We need to do all we can to ensure the PGA of America is defined by inclusion. Part of our mission to grow the game is about welcoming all and bringing diversity to the sport. With the new PGA Professional Development Award, we will recognize effective inclusion efforts and honor those across our 41 PGA Sections who continue to promote and improve our educational programs. We look forward to doing more of both as we move forward.”

Whaley will present the first PGA Professional Development Award during the organization’s 104th annual meeting Oct. 27-30 in Hartford. The Connecticut Section PGA is the hosting the event as the culmination of Whaley’s two-year reign as president. Whaley, a three-time Connecticut Women’s Open who has won numerous local and national teaching awards, was the first female elected a PGA of America officer in 2014 when she was named secretary. In 2003, he became the first woman to win a PGA of America individual tournament and first in 58 years to qualify for the PGA Tour event, the 2003 Greater Hartford Open, when she captured the 2002 Connecticut PGA Championship.

The PGA of America is one of the world’s largest sports organizations, composed of nearly 29,000 PGA professionals who daily work to grow interest and inclusion in the game of golf.

Will Gordon, a 23-year-old who was the 2019 SEC Player of the Year while playing at Vanderbilt before turning pro last year played last week at the Travelers Championship by earning an exemption, his eighth PGA Tour event, finished T-3.


Will Gordon, who tied for third with Mackenzie Hughes in the Travelers Championship on June 28, accepted Special Temporary Membership to the PGA Tour for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Gordon, a native of Davidson, N.C., is now eligible for unlimited sponsor exemptions as he tries to earn his PGA Tour card for the 2020-21 season.

Playing on a sponsor exemption at the Travelers Championship, Gordon earned 163 non-member FedExCup points to secure Special Temporary Membership. Gordon has made seven starts this season and collected an additional top-10 at The RSM Classic in November. To earn full status for the 2020-21 season, Gordon must earn as many or more points through the non-member FedExCup points list as No. 125 on the 2019-20 season FedExCup standings. Gordon currently has 296 points, which would fall between Nos. 78 and 79 in the current FedExCup standings. No. 125 currently has 191 points.

Special Temporary Members are not eligible for the FedExCup playoffs, but they or non-members who subsequently become regular PGA Tour members by winning an official event during the season will be counted on the FedExCup points list, along with any FedExCup points earned as a non-member, excluding those won at World Golf Championships events as a non-member, and thus be eligible for the FedExCup playoffs.

Dustin Johnson notched his 21st PGA Tour title in the Travelers Championship, shooting a closing 3-under-par 67 for a 72-hole total of 19-under 261 and a one-stroke victory over 2014 champion Kevin Streelman at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. It ended a memorable week in which spectators could view the action only from their backyards or on CBS or The Golf Channel as the tournament was the third of five TV-only events since the PGA Tour resumed play. The 2021 Travelers Championship is June 24-27.

The first tournament scheduled to have fans, a reported 8,000, was the Memorial Tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus on July 16-19 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. But on Monday, the PGA Tour decided not to allow spectators as a safety precaution. Nicklaus will host another event, the new Workday Charity Open, this week after offering to help the PGA Tour in any way possible because of scheduling problems due to the pandemic.


Jim “Bones” Mackay, who caddied for World Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson for 25 years before the two parted way in June 2017, will make a temporary return to looping when he carries for young English star Matthew Fitzpatrick for the next two weeks.

“The (text) message said it was Bones, and he heard through the grapevine that I was in the market for a fill-in caddie,” Fitzpatrick said. “I told him I was honored that he was even reaching out.”

Needless to say, Fitzpatrick gave a positive response to Mackay, 53, who should be a major help after caddying many times for Mickelson at Muirfield Village GC. He was a steady sidekick to Mickelson, who has 44 PGA Tour victories and is the only back-to-back winner of the Travelers Championship when it was known as the Canon Greater Hartford Open in 2001-02. Mackay has done excellent commentary as an on-course analyst for NBC Sports and the Golf Channel.

Fitzpatrick waited out most of the COVID-19 lockdown in his hometown of Sheffield, England. When he flew back to the United States in late May and quarantined for two weeks in Florida before returning to the PGA Tour, his full-time looper Billy Foster, a highly respected caddie himself who spent years working for European stars Seve Ballesteros and Lee Westwood, opted to remain with his family in England rather than risking infection and waiting out the mandatory quarantine in the U.S.

Fitzpatrick first met Mackay when he played in Mickelson’s group as an amateur in the 2014 U.S. Open, and the two occasionally kept in touch because they are both sponsored by Workday. Since splitting with Mickelson and taking the TV gig, Mackay has worked as a fill-in caddie for several players, including No. 3-ranked Justin Thomas in the 2018 Sony Open when his caddie, Jimmy Johnson, was out with a foot injury. Thomas and Mackay combined for a tie for 14th at 12-under 268.

During the first three tournaments of the PGA Tour restart, Fitzpatrick used a different fill-in, Cayce Kerr, tied for 32nd in the Charles Schwab Challenge, tied for the 14th in the RBC Heritage and missed the cut in the Travelers Championship, which broke his streak for 20 consecutive made cuts on the PGA Tour. The plan is for Foster to return to Fitzpatrick’s bag at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on July 30-Aug. 2 at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn., while Mackay will return to his TV reporting duties.

Fitzpatrick, 25, is ranked 26th in the world and a five-time winner on the European Tour who was a member of the 2016 European Ryder Cup team and playing his first full season as a PGA Tour member.

Worked as sports writer for The Hartford Courant for 38 years before retiring in 2008. His major beats at the paper were golf, the Hartford Whalers, University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball, Yale football, United States and World Figure Skating Championships and ski columnist. He has covered every PGA Tour stop in Connecticut since 1971, along with 30 Masters, 25 U.S. Opens, four PGA Championships, 12 Deutsche Bank Championships, 15 Westchester (N.Y.) Classics and four Ryder Cups. He has won several Golf Writers Association of America writing awards, including a first place for a feature on John Daly, and was elected to the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 2009. He also worked for the Connecticut Whale hockey team for two years when they were renamed by former Hartford Whalers managing general partner Howard Baldwin, who had become the marketing director of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the top affiliate of the New York Rangers.

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