World Golf Hall of Famer Judy Rankin was recently presented with the National Golf Foundation’s Graffis Award at the annual NGF Golf Business Symposium in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the game and business of golf.
Rankin was a 26-time winner on the LPGA Tour and today is one of the most insightful television commentators in the sport, the lead analyst for LPGA Tour telecasts on Golf Channel and an on-course reporter at select PGA TOUR events.
“We’re thrilled to celebrate Judy’s contributions as one of the game’s finest ambassadors,” said NGF President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Beditz. “While her personal accomplishments as a player are noteworthy, what she’s accomplished and done for the game over the past 40 years, particularly on the women’s side, is truly special and deserving of recognition.”
Rankin appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1961 at age 16, a year after she was the low amateur at the U.S. Women’s Open, and turned professional the following year. Rankin was twice selected the LPGA’s Player of the Year, topped the tour’s money list on two occasions and became the first woman to win more than $100,000 in a season — all while playing with chronic back problems that eventually forced her retirement from competition at age 38. She would later captain victorious Solheim Cup teams in 1996 and 1998, was inducted into the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame in 2000, and in 2002 was the recipient of the USGA’s Bob Jones Award in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
Rankin joined ESPN and ABC as a golf commentator in 1985 and in 2010 became the lead LPGA analyst for Golf Channel, a prominent position she still holds today.
The Graffis Award is named in honor of the NGF’s founders, Herb and Joe Graffis, the former having been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1977 for his extensive contributions to the business of golf and his advancement of the game. The award reinforces the NGF’s position mission to foster the growth and vitality of the game and business of golf. Previous winners of NGF’s Graffis Award include Byron Nelson, Karsten Solheim, Judy Bell, Jack Nicklaus and Tim Finchem, among others.
The NGF is widely regarded as the foremost authority in the golf business for data, research and consulting. The foundation serves members across every sector in the golf industry, with an expertise that includes market intelligence in golf participation, consumer behavior, course operations, facility development, travel, retail, consumer confidence and more.