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Abrams, Woodard, Vickers Headed for 'Hall'

Colorado Golf Hall of Fame votes in 3 for Class of 2013

by Gary Baines


Three men -- the Colorado PGA Golf Professional of the Year three of the last six years, a district director of golf who in March was inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame, and a part-time Colorado resident who was a stellar player both in the state and nationally -- were voted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

Indian Tree Golf Course head professional and operations manager Alan Abrams, Foothills Park & Recreation District director of golf Tom Woodard and Jimmy Vickers will be inducted on June 9 as the 41st class of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame also will present annual honors to several individuals on that night. Cherry Hills Country Club head professional John Ogden, the host pro for this year's U.S. Amateur, is Golf Person of the Year. Gail Godbey, a former executive director of the Colorado Open -- and founder of the Colorado Women's Open -- as well as being a dedicated volunteer in the game, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. And Rich Langston, who donates many, many hours as a rules official, and Denver Post sports writer Tom Kensler, a respected golf reporter in the state for a couple of decades, will be honored with Distinguished Service Awards.

The three impending inductees will join the 128 people currently in the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.

"I've been in Colorado since I was 10 years old, and if I went down the list of those inducted I bet I'd know 90 percent of them," Woodard said Wednesday. "And I (previously) served on the Hall of Fame selection committee for four or five years, so I know what it takes to get in. It's one of the biggest accomplishments of my golfing career. To me it says, 'Job well done' and that's huge. It's outstanding news, and I can't tell you how excited I am.

"And it's high cotton (to be voted in with Abrams and Vickers)."

It's been a big year from an honors standpoint for both Woodard and Abrams. In March, Woodard joined the likes of Charlie Sifford, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jim Brown and Lee Elder in the National Black Golf Hall of Fame. And on Friday, Abrams will join Danny Harvanek (1990-92) as a three-time Colorado PGA Golf Professional of the Year, the Section's highest honor.

Woodard, 56, was elected based both on his playing record and for working in the game. As a tournament player, he competed for 2 1/2 years on the PGA Tour, qualified for two U.S. Opens and a PGA Championship, and twice was the Colorado PGA's Player of the Year. He also won a national professional tournament on the United Golfers Association tour in 1979.

Since becoming a club professional in 1986, Woodard has made an impact all around the Denver metro area. He's served as head professional at City Park (1987-89), Littleton Golf Club (1990), South Suburban (1991-95) and at Buffalo Run (where he was the first head pro in 1996). He was director of golf for the City of Denver from 1997-2006, and has been in the same position at the Foothills District since then.

During his time working for the city of Denver, Woodard co-founded The First Tee of Denver and he served on the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame board.

As a young man, Woodard was one of the first African-Americans to receive the Evans Caddie Scholarship and one of the first to earn Division I All-American status (he was an honorable mention choice at the University of Colorado).

Abrams is well known for his service to the Colorado PGA. He's a former president of the Section and he currently serves as the chairman of the Colorado PGA Foundation.

The Colorado native, 58, has been a mainstay at Indian Tree since 1980 -- initially working for current Hall of Famer Vic Kline -- and he's been head professional at the facility since 1991. During all his years at Indian Tree, Abrams has been one of the state's leaders in the area of junior golf.

In fact, Abrams is so highly respected in the realm of junior golf development that he was voted national Junior Golf Leader by the PGA of America in 1997.

He was one of the first Colorado professionals to utilize a golf in schools programs to introduce kids to the game during physical education classes. It's estimated that he's taught the game to more than 10,000 elementary school students through the program.

And in 1988 his junior golf program at the course was named by Golf Digest to be the best among municipal golf facilities in the nation. Indian Tree's junior program has been a model for many other facilities in Colorado.

In addition, Abrams was also a lead instructor at national PGA Junior Academies.

As for Vickers -- the brother of Jack Vickers, founder of The International PGA Tour event held in Colorado -- during the late 1940s and well into the 1960s, he was one of the finest players in the state and region.

Jimmy Vickers won the 1949 and '50 CGA Match Play Championships while at Regis University, and he claimed the NCAA individual title and the Western Amateur Championship in 1952 while playing for the University of Oklahoma. He also won the Kansas state amateur in 1964 and competed in 15 USGA championships, including several U.S. Opens. He placed fifth in the 1965 U.S. Amateur. Vickers won the World Seniors Championship three times and claimed the pro-am team title -- with Leonard Thompson -- at the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am in 1977.

On the administrative side, Vickers served as a director for the Western Golf Association, the Evans Scholars Foundation and the Trans-Mississippi Golf Association.

And Vickers, now 82, also played a major role in devising the scoring system used for 21 years at The International PGA Tour event in Castle Rock.