For only the second time in Northwest golf history, the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) and the Pacific Northwest Section PGA (PNWPGA) will conduct a joint Hall of Fame ceremony to honor inductees from each organization. This combined Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held at Seattle (Wash.) Golf Club on April 26.
Being inducted this year for the PNGA are Alison Murdoch of Victoria, B.C.; Bill Wright of Los Angeles, Calif.; and Bruce Richards of Seattle, Wash. The PNWPGA will be inducting Jeff Coston of Blaine, Wash. and Mike Dowaliby of Whitefish, Mont.
The two associations began discussions in 2009 about the possibility of unifying their two induction ceremonies, and have agreed upon one combined ceremony every two years to honor inductees from both organizations. Their respective Halls of Fame recognize those who have distinguished themselves through outstanding playing accomplishments as well as contributions to the game in the region.
“Every two years we nominate, recognize and select those individuals who have distinguished themselves above all others for their dedication and selfless giving to golf in the Pacific Northwest,” said Bob Black, PNGA President. “This year’s inductees have brought recognition to the Pacific Northwest through either excellence in championship play or outstanding contributions of their time and effort in the advancement of golf, all with exemplary conduct. A partnership of amateurs and professionals is the essence of making golf the wonderful game that it is. This joint induction dinner and ceremony exemplifies that positive relationship in the Pacific Northwest.”
Said Marcus King, PNWPGA President, “The Pacific Northwest Golf Association and the Pacific Northwest Section PGA have long enjoyed close ties and common interests in promoting the game of golf, and those ties grew even stronger when we united our Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for the first time in 2011. This year, the Pacific Northwest Section PGA will be inducting two masterful, respected and revered PGA golf professionals along with the outstanding amateurs from the PNGA in a joint ceremony that celebrates all that is great about the traditions and legacies of golf. We are looking forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with our amateur counterparts and showing everyone what a life well-lived looks like, and enjoying the embrace of friendships as well as championships.”
Alison Murdoch has amassed tremendous success during her senior career. She has proven herself on both the national and international stage with a playing record which includes four Canadian Senior Women’s Championships and two Super Senior Championships. She has qualified for six USGA Senior Women’s Amateurs, is a four-time champion of the Irish Senior Women’s Open Stroke Play and has also won the British Senior Women’s Amateur. Murdoch has twice won the PNGA Women’s Mid Amateur and twice won the PNGA Senior Women’s Amateur, as well as both British Columbia, Alberta and WSGA senior women titles. Earlier in her career she won the 1967 Quebec Junior Girls and a number of Ottawa City Championships. Murdoch’s amazing career in the senior ranks has seen her named to numerous national teams; the PNGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year on five occasions; and the Sport BC Female Master Athlete of the Year in 2007. In 2009 she was inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame of BC, and on August 2 she will be inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.
In winning the 1959 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, Bill Wright made history by becoming the first African-American to win a USGA national championship. Bill was one of the first participants in Fir State’s junior golf program at Seattle’s Jefferson Park GC in the 1950s, and within a year after picking up the game he was the city’s Junior champion. He earned athletic honors in golf and basketball at Western Washington State College (now University), winning the NAIA collegiate individual golf championship in 1960, and is a member of WWU’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He competed in the 1959 U.S. Amateur and was a member of the 1959 Hudson Cup team. He briefly ventured onto the professional tour, and played in the 1966 U.S. Open. He has qualified for five U.S. Senior Opens, and has been enshrined in the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J. The USGA, WSGA, First Tee of Greater Seattle and Jefferson Park GC declared October 10, 2009 as “Bill Wright Day” to honor the 50th anniversary of Bill’s historic victory in the U.S. Amateur Public Links. Wright still teaches golf a few days a week at The Lakes at El Segundo (Calif.) course.
Bruce Richards has been selected for induction for his accomplishments as a player and for his contributions to the game. He showed early promise on the golf course, qualifying for the U.S. Junior Amateur in 1958 and 1960, and winning the 1960 PNGA Junior Amateur Championship, as well as being the Washington State High School champion in 1960 and ’61. A two-time All-American while competing for the University of Washington, he competed in two PGA Tour events and was the Low American Amateur in the 1965 British Open. He has qualified for nine USGA championships, collected nine PNGA or WSGA championship titles, played on five Hudson and Senior Hudson Cup teams, captained the 2008 Senior Hudson Cup Team, and was selected the 2003 PNGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year. He served on the USGA Executive Committee from 2001-2005, was a Trustee for the Pacific Coast Golf Association from 1988-1997, a Board member of The First Tee of Greater Seattle from 2006-2010, and a longtime PNGA and WSGA Club Representative, still serving on the PNGA Championship Committee.
Jeff Coston, pictured above, has won more PNWPGA major championships than any other professional or amateur in the 90 year history of the Section. The 57-year old Coston has been to the winner’s circle 19 times – Pacific Northwest PGA Championship (7); Northwest Open (2); Washington Open (4); Oregon Open (2); Rosauers Open (3) and Al Giusti Memorial (1). In 2006, Coston became the only Pacific Northwest Section professional to win the prestigious Senior PGA Professional National Championship. The following year he was low club professional in the Senior PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, SC. His other titles include the 1977 PNGA Amateur Championship and the 1991 Shreveport Open on the Web.com Tour. Coston has developed an outstanding reputation as one of the top teachers in the Northwest. His golf academy has been a fixture at Semiahmoo G&CC in Blaine, Wash. since 1994 and he prides himself in helping players of all abilities. Coston has earned Pacific Northwest Section Player of the Year honors 12 times and Senior Player of the Year honors seven times, every year he has been eligible.
Mike Dowaliby has been a PGA Member for 53 years. Beginning his career in 1960 at the Woodland Hills Country Club in California, he took over the helm of Whitefish (Mont.) Lake Golf Club. It is fitting that Dowaliby becomes the first member of the Pacific Northwest Section from Montana, as he mentored many of today’s PGA Professionals in Montana. At Whitefish Lake, Dowaliby was known for his strong junior programs teaching many young people about the game of golf and providing life lessons. Two of his former junior students run the Whitefish Lake Golf Club today – former Dowaliby assistants Tim Olson and Christine Newton now serve as the PGA Head Professional and PGA Assistant Professional, respectively. As head golf coach of the nearby high school, Mike’s teams won three Boys’ and two Girls’ State Championships in the 1980s. One of Dowaliby’s players, Dane Thorman, won the 1984 State Championship and today is the PGA Teaching Professional at Iron Horse Golf Club in Whitefish. Dowaliby’s golf shop was the first Montana facility to be recognized by Golf Operations Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Golf Shops” in America. Dowaliby retired in 1999 after 22 years at Whitefish Lake.
The PNGA and PNWPGA each have their own respective Halls of Fame that already include many of the Northwest’s finest golfers, with the PNGA honoring the amateurs and the PNWPGA honoring the PGA professionals. The PNGA established their Hall of Fame in 1978, and it currently has 57 amateur golfers as members. Visit www.thepnga.org to view a complete list of inductees and their bios. The PNWPGA established their Hall of Fame in 1981, and it currently has 48 professional members. Visit www.pnwpga.com to view a complete list of inductees and their bios. For information on attending the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on April 26, contact the PNGA office at 206-526-1238.
The PNGA and PNWPGA will continue to have a separate selection process for inductees into their respective Halls. However, members of both Halls will someday be showcased together as one combined display at the future Northwest Golf House, which will be located at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash.