First Class All the Way

New Colorado Golf Hall of Fame Museum at The Broadmoor draws rave reviews during Grand Opening

By Gary Baines – 4/14/2023

When Jill McGill first toured the new Colorado Golf Hall of Fame Museum at The Broadmoor on Friday, one of her first thoughts — besides just how impressive it is — regarded her kids and how they viewed their mom’s golf career.

“To see the history they have (compiled) all the way from Babe Zaharias, it’s astounding,” said McGill, who was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2009 — and who last year became the first American to win the U.S. Senior Women’s Open. “To look at the (museum’s) timeline and all of the different people who are displayed or represented, and to be part of that, I don’t know if I really appreciated it prior. But now going through what I have and having kids, you realize, ‘Wow, there really is history.’ And selfishly looking at it, I’m like, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’ My kids will know that I actually did something besides pick up dog poop and pack lunches.”

And so it was on Friday as the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, held the Grand Opening of its museum at the five-star Broadmoor resort. Located in the lobby — and an adjoining long hallway — of the building that houses the resort’s golf and tennis club and spa, the $1.75 million Hall of Fame Museum was completed this week after more than two years of planning and work.

The museum not only pays tribute to the 147 people who have been inducted since 1973, but also to Colorado golf in general and its history.

The Grand Opening brought together more than 200 guests, among them a couple of dozen Hall of Famers, including Judy Bell, the longtime Broadmoor mainstay who became the first female president of the USGA. Those in attendance took tours, offered hearty thank-yous and socialized as one of the biggest happenings in Colorado golf in 2023 took place. In addition, five Colorado Golf Persons of the Year and two Future Famers were honored for what they accomplished in 2022. (More on that later.)

As for the Hall of Fame Museum, it will be free and open to the public on a self-guided basis.

Suffice it to say that those who took it all in on Friday — the backlit etched-on-glass photos of the Hall of Fame inductees, a timeline featuring highlights of the state’s golf history, and more than 500 pieces of memorabilia and hundreds of photos from the game since 1887 — were impressed by both the scope and the quality of the museum.

“I think I had high expectations, but I walked in this afternoon and did a self-guided tour and I was overwhelmed,” said Bob Webster, president of the CGHOF board of directors. “I was astounded by the number of objects that represent so many of our inductees. And I was incredibly impressed by the presentation of colors and labels and text and stories. It’s just fantastic.”

Several Hall of Famers flew in from out of state to attend the debut of the museum, which is expected to attract thousands of visitors a week.

“I was speechless. It was so incredible and so moving,” said Janet Moore, whose husband Kent is also a Hall of Famer. “We’re so honored to be part of the Hall of Fame and Colorado golf. It’s incredibly humbling to see your picture up there — especially with the other great people who are up there. It’s indescribable.” (Janet Moore could even see her late father having a hand in all this as his onetime business, Cator, Ruma & Associates, worked on the project.)

Added inductee Christie Austin: “I believe that if folks that take the time to walk through and absorb all the memorabilia and content displayed in the museum, they will be astounded by all the great names and achievements that have taken place in Colorado over time. They may have read about Hale Irwin, Babe Zaharias and more recently Jill McGill and Jennifer Kupcho, but they will also learn about all the other great talents we have had over the years, from architects, to golf professionals, teachers (and other golf administrators) to superstar amateur players and fabulous golf writers.

“On top of all that, they will learn about all of the national championships we have conducted here and the clubs that hosted them, and the stories behind who won.  Probably the most famous would be (Arnold Palmer’s) come-from-behind victory at the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club. For golf lovers around the world, they are in for a special treat. How lucky we are that The Broadmoor is now the home to this museum, where it will get the attention it deserves. And I think it will be of interest to far more people from everywhere other than Colorado.”

And from Hall of Famer Kim Eaton: “I really didn’t know what to expect. But it’s gorgeous. People donated a lot of stuff, and it’s really neat. I’m just glad I can be a part of it.”

The three-story lobby area features five large photos of some of the biggest names in Colorado golf history — all next to the large staircase: McGill (winner of the 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Open as well as two USGA amateur championships in the 1990s); Bell (a member of The Broadmoor and a former USGA president) presenting the U.S. Open trophy in 1996 to Steve Jones, who grew up in Colorado; Dale Douglass winning the 1986 U.S. Senior Open; Craig Stadler being presented his green jacket at the 1982 Masters; and one with several members of the winning 1964 U.S. Curtis Cup team that featured four current Hall of Famers: Carol Sorenson Flenniken, Nancy Roth Syms, Barbara McIntire and Tish Preuss.

And next to the stairway sits a display case which for the next year or so will be devoted to Dow Finsterwald, The Broadmoor’s longtime director of golf and a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, who passed away late last year.

Generally speaking, the museum’s lobby area largely will be devoted to “the giants of the game” from a Colorado perspective. To that end, two other cases there house trophies and a few photos of big-time champions from the state. In addition, near the entrance to the hallway are big-as-life photos of Irwin and Zaharias.

Then 124 feet of hallway, including jut-outs, feature a plethora of memorabilia, photos, historical information — you name it. Perhaps the most eye-catching display is a huge photo of Zaharias — then a Colorado resident — receiving a 250-pound, 15-foot-tall key to the city of Denver at a 1947 ceremony attended by about 50,000 people. That event took place after Zaharias became the first American to win the British Ladies Amateur.

The museum project was spearheaded by Mark Passey, a CGHOF vice president who worked for the USGA for 28 years before retiring in 2017. He received considerable help from fellow CGHOF board members, executive director Jon Rizzi, Webster, The Broadmoor and director of golf Russ Miller, Nancy Woelfel (design/display) and numerous others, including the construction team.

Hall of Famer Maggie Giesenhagen leads a toast to the new museum.

Passey, who devoted thousands of hours to the museum project, sweated the details right to the end. The final touches weren’t made until Thursday, a day before the Grand Opening.

“Along the way, every time I’d talk to the board or at the monthly meeting of the group that’s been managing the finances etc., I was fearful that I was over-promising and under-delivering,” he said. “And I think now, it’s the opposite.

“What I’ve discovered over the last little while is people come in that door (entering the museum area) and there’s a ‘Wow!’ Then they (look down the hall) and there’s another big ‘Wow!’ Then they turn the corner and see the timeline and there’s another big, ‘Wow!’

“It’s taken a real team” to make it all happen.

That team has “outdone themselves and have made us all so proud,” Austin said.

McGill, a former longtime LPGA Tour player, was among those thinking — if not saying — “wow.”

“When you walk through there, everything is documented in Colorado golf,” she said. “When you get an opportunity to see how rich the history is of Colorado golf … I don’t think that people think of Colorado golf as being as lustrous as it really is. To go down there and see Judy Bell, Joanie Birkland, Maggie Giesenhagen. These were the ladies when I was playing amateur golf who were my biggest cheerleaders.”

The fact that the museum is housed at The Broadmoor has many benefits, not the least of which is providing a high-level of exposure for the exhibit. Not only is The Broadmoor a world-class resort that attracts many guests, but it has featured outstanding golf — and a rich golf history — since 1918.

The resort has hosted eight USGA championships, including two U.S. Amateurs (the first won by Jack Nicklaus), two U.S. Women’s Opens (the first won by Annika Sorenstam), one U.S. Women’s Amateur (won by Juli Inkster) and two U.S. Senior Opens, plus five men’s NCAA national championships. In addition, besides Irwin winning The Broadmoor Invitation title in 1967, fellow World Golf Hall of Famers Zaharias and Bell each won three Broadmoor Ladies Invitations. Next up for The Broadmoor, regarding major championships, will be the 2025 U.S. Senior Open.

A display case devoted to Dow Finsterwald, the longtime PGA director of golf at The Broadmoor, who passed away last year.

“The Broadmoor is an international destination, an international golf mecca and such a big part of Colorado history,” noted Kent Moore. “So to have that here, it just all brings it together. It’s really, really special.”

Said Rizzi: “Today is a momentous day in Colorado golf — not only for this organization (the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame) but for Colorado golf in general. … I feel like we achieved something that’s really special.”

Webster likewise sees the possibilities beyond the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame per se.

“I’m excited about the prospect of the exposure golf in Colorado is going to receive because of the museum,” he said. “It’s going to be a great marketing piece — and a great tourism aid for the game of golf; not that The Broadmoor isn’t already. But the museum just kind of puts the icing on the cake.”

A thank-you to some of the major donors to the CGHOF museum project.

Among those who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame — besides people previously mentioned here — are Dave Hill, Paul Runyan, Jack Vickers, Lauren Howe, Mark Wiebe, Brandt Jobe, Bob Byman, Bill Loeffler, Babe Lind, Ralph Moore, Will Nicholson Jr., Warren Smith, Vic Kline, Ed Dudley, Jim Haines, Les Fowler, Dick Phelps, Gene Miranda, Dennis Lyon and Ed Oldham.

Friday marked the first of three big events the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame has planned at The Broadmoor during its golden anniversary year. A CGHOF tournament will be held on July 6, and a 50th anniversary Gala on Nov. 18. For more information on those upcoming events, CLICK HERE.

As for the Golf Persons of the Year and the Future Famers that were honored on Friday, here are some of their 2022 highlights:

Friday’s honorees (from left): Kyle Leydon, Madeline Bante, Jill McGill, Matt Schalk and Connor Jones. (Not pictured: Jennifer Kupcho and Yannik Paul.)


Connor Jones of Westminster, Colorado State University golfer 

— Won both of the Colorado Golf Association men’s major championships, the Match Play and the Amateur.

— Became just the third player in history to win both of the aforementioned CGA championships, plus be the low amateur in the Colorado Open, in a single calendar year, joining Colin Prater (2020) and Gary Longfellow, who won the Colorado Open outright in 1974. Jones finished third overall in the 2022 Inspirato Colorado Open, setting an amateur scoring record in the process.

— Finished runner-up in a playoff at the Trans-Mississippi — part of the national Elite Amateur Series — as Denver Country Club hosted the event.

— Pulled off the remarkable feat of winning individual titles at three college tournaments, prevailing at the Mountain West Conference championship, the Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational and the TPC Colorado Collegiate.

Colorado native Jennifer Kupcho, former Westminster resident and a Jefferson Academy graduate

— Recorded the first three victories of her LPGA Tour career. She and Lydia Ko were the only players on the LPGA Tour to have won three times or more in 2022. She earned almost $2 million in official prize money last year.

— The first of her victories came at the Chevron Championship, one of the women’s major championships.

— Also won the Meijer LPGA Classic and the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational team event with Lizette Salas.

— She reached as high as No. 9 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

Colorado native and Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Jill McGill, a Cherry Creek High School graduate

— Won the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, arguably the most prestigious tournament in women’s senior golf.

— With the victory, she joined Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Joanne Carner and Carol Semple Thompson as winners of three different USGA championship titles, in McGill’s case having captured the 1993 U.S. Women’s Amateur and the 1994 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links.

— The former LPGA Tour veteran also made the cut in the Senior LPGA Championship, finishing 36th.

Matt Schalk of Erie, the PGA general manager at Colorado National Golf Club

— Won the national PGA Senior Professional Championship out of a field of 264, qualifying for the 2023 Senior PGA Championship — a senior major — in the process. He’s the first Coloradan since Bill Loeffler in 2007 to win the national PGA Senior Pro Championship.

— Won the Colorado PGA Senior Professional Championship.

— At age 51, made the cut in the Inspirato Colorado Open, finishing 57th.

— Tied for fourth in the open-age Colorado PGA Professional Championship, the Section’s most prestigious tournament of the year.

Yannik Paul, former University of Colorado golfer

— Won the Mallorca Golf Open for his first DP World Tour victory. (The DP World Tour was formerly known as the European Tour.)

— Notched five top-10 finishes on the DP World circuit in 2022.


Madeline Bante of Englewood, a junior at St. Mary’s Academy

— Earned the USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, a national honor. The award goes to “one male and one female junior golfer who demonstrate leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the Leadership Links program, a joint initiative founded by the USGA and AJGA in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism.” She became the first Coloradan since 2015 to earn the honor.

— Volunteered with the First Tee-Colorado Rocky Mountains, helping teach kids how to play golf and the life principles the First Tee espouses. She also raised more than $14,000 in 2021 alone for the First Tee-Colorado Rocky Mountains and the ACE Grant. That amount helped fund college scholarships for teenagers, provide tuition for First Tee programming and aided those in need to compete in AJGA tournaments.

— A former member of the Hale Irwin Player Program at CommonGround Golf Course, Bante won the 3A girls state high school individual title and led St. Mary’s Academy to its second straight team championship.

Kyle Leydon of Commerce City, a senior at Brighton High School

— Finished first on the Colorado PGA’s boys junior golf points list for 2022.

— Won the Colorado PGA Junior Invitational — a junior major in the state.

— Leydon, a member of the First Tee of Green Valley Ranch, tied for seventh place in the First Tee National Championship. In 2021, he competed in the PURE Insurance Championship, a PGA Tour Champions event in which First Tee kids are paired with senior tour professionals.

— Posted top-10 individual finishes in his final two 5A boys state high school tournaments.

— Represented Colorado on its four-player Junior America’s Cup team.

— Finished 15th in Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championship.

— Like Bante, Leydon was part of the Hale Irwin Player Program at CommonGround GC.

About the Author: Gary Baines owns and operates