MARIETTA, Ga. – Four new members were inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek on Saturday, January 22. It was the 22nd induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame and the first organized by the Georgia State Golf Association.
Mark Esoda of Marietta, certified golf course superintendent at Atlanta Country Club and a distinguished contributor to the game and the golf industry, recognized his fellow superintendents, volunteer colleagues of the GSGA and Georgia State Golf Foundation, members and staff of his home club and his family and friends, referencing a statement from country music star Brad Paisley: “If you see a turtle atop a fence post, it had help getting there.”
Peter Persons of Macon, former Georgia Amateur and Junior champion, All-American and All-SEC performer at the University of Georgia and PGA TOUR winner, made note of teachers, coaches and mentors who influenced his golf career; thanked his supporters at his home club, Idle Hour in Macon; talked of a different appreciation of what golf has given him in his life; and praised his family for their support during his golf career.
Jim Stuart of Macon, winner of numerous junior and college titles before winning back-to-back U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships in 1990-1991, spoke of how “golf is the greatest of all games, not because of the trophies on the mantle, but the people that you meet and the friends that you make.” Stuart thanked a close group of Macon friends who attended on his behalf and his wife Kimberly for her support of him and his golf.
Billie Wickliffe, inducted posthumously, was a multiple state champion and a leader with a long-range impact on the opportunities for women golfers in Georgia. She was represented by sisters Jo Hines and Alice St. John and more than 30 extended family members and friends. Long-time friend Carol Bowman represented the family with remarks about Wickliffe’s perseverance in the game and her desire for others to be able to enjoy the fun of golf.
Twenty-three of the living Hall of Fame members attended events in their honor during the weekend and were joined by a near-capacity audience of close to 400 at the induction ceremony. There are now 86 members of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, including such famous Georgia golf heroes as Bobby Jones, Alexa Stirling Fraser, Allen Doyle, Nancy Lopez, Davis Love III, Larry Nelson, Louise Suggs, Tommy Barnes and Charlie Yates.
In 2010, the GSGA obtained the rights to hold the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame banquet, coordinate the selection process for new members, store and display memorabilia of the members and use the Hall of Fame name and logo.