SPRINGFIELD, Mo–The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame honored six individuals and three programs at Wednesday’s women in sports luncheon.
Missouri State’s Joanie French, Branson’s Cindy Shook, the Royals Linda Smith, Glendale volleyball coach Stephanie Bates and Neosho’s Harry Lineberry were all inducted.
As was Glendale’s 1975 tennis team, Neosho’s cross country and Eldon’s volleyball programs.
The headliner was golfer and broadcaster Judy Rankin.
More than two decades ago, Missouri Sports Hall of Fame director Jerald Andrews wanted to enshrine a certain golfer from St. Louis.
Just a few months before his retirement, Andrews finally got Judy Rankin to the podium.
That’s because Rankin is stepping off the golf course after a lifetime as a player and commentator.
“I really have taken great joy watching all the best players in the world for the last 30 some years,” said Rankin.
Judy Rankin grew up in St. Louis and started playing golf at an early age.
She won the Missouri Amateur at the age of 14.
And her smiling face adorned the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16.
Judy joined the LPGA tour in 1962 in that league’s infancy, and won 26 tour events before a bad back forced her from playing competitively in the early 80’s.
The difference between the LPGA then and now?
Rankin:”Depth of talent and money. I think those who are really good would be good in any generation. But there is an extraordinary amount of talent in womens golf today.”
She moved into broadcasting with ABC, ESPN and the Golf Channel.
She walked the fairways with some of golf’s greatest men and women.
Judy says broadcasting is not as stressful.
“You don’t have to practice as much. And you don’t make as many bogeys.”
She started at such a young age, and often tells young golfers today to take advantage of college.
“I did not have the college experience. I think the college experience must be really great. Great in a team sense if you’re playing golf,” said Rankin.
Judy Rankin has tasted success as both a golfer winning tournaments.
And as a broadcaster bringing the golf fan side by side with the game’s best.
“There is a certain joy, if you’ve ever done anything well, when you do step back and watching the next generations. Or even friends do extremely well. That’s the seat I’ve had for a long time,” said Rankin.