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Betty Boyko- Distinguished Service to Golf
Ted May- Distinguished Service to Golf
Roy Pace- Distinguished Golf Achievement
Betty Boyko, one of the great pioneers of women’s golf in Connecticut, enters the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame on December 4th, 2014 in the category of “Distinguished Service.”
Boyko was instrumental in the founding of the Southern New England Women’s Golf Association (SNEWGA) in 1956, and it was her forward thinking vision and energy that launched the Connecticut Women’s Amateur Championship ten years later in 1966. Women who have followed in her footsteps, and who have benefitted from her trailblazing efforts on behalf of women golfers have long revered Boyko. In 2009 SNEWGA created the Betty Boyko SNEWGA Invitational. The Connecticut Women’s Senior Amateur trophy is named in her honor.
In 2006, on the occasion of SNEWGA’s 50th anniversary, then president Gale Lemieux of Timberlin Golf Club found inspiration in the work of Betty Boyko and other early leaders when she wrote, “Recently I had the pleasure of meeting three of the first four presidents of SNEWGA, Betty Boyko, Anna Polanski and Arline Rich. These women are an inspiration for all of us to assess what we can offer back to the game and our association, and to find a way to reach out to women golfers and encourage and support their interest in the game.”
The social and competitive environment was very different in the 1950s and 1960s for women golfers. It was a struggle to convince clubs to put in women’s tees and to establish women’s handicaps. Sometimes it was hard just to get playing time. “What the founders must have gone through reminds me of that movie, ‘A League of Their Own’,” said Deb Johnson of Sterling Farms Golf Course, one of Connecticut’s top women golfers for many years.
Boyko, the President of SNEWGA in 1963-64 recalled the early years with great fondness in a 2006 interview. “I formed a committee that included members from the Connecticut Women’s Golf Association and we played the first championship in 1966,” Boyko said. “I think we had thirty-five of us playing in the first one.”
The tournament gained instant credibility when Connecticut Golf Hall of Famer Pat O’Sullivan Lucey, a former Curtis Cupper, LPGA winner and nine-time CWGA champion signed up and won the inaugural event.
“We had mostly team competitions at first with four players on each club’s team,” Boyko recalled. “It’s more competitive now because of the young players.”
The signature event in the association’s early years was the Team Championship, which has remained a fixture on the annual schedule. Boyko, who was a longtime member at Indian Hill Country Club and who also played extensively at Goodwin Park Golf Course, carded a 78 at Blackledge Country Club to win the individual medal in 1970, a round she often referred to as her best ever.
Former president of the Southern New England Women’s Golf Association and its current historian, Jenny Burrill paid tribute to Boyko as the driving force in the creation of the Connecticut Women’s Amateur Championship, and the effect Boyko has had on future generations, “This is the premier women’s golf championship in the State of Connecticut. Its long and distinguished list of champions - from Barbara Young to Lida Kinicutt to Elizabeth Janangelo to Kelly Whaley - is a testament to the significance of this event. It would not have been possible without the efforts of Betty Boyko.”
Article by Bruce Berlet
When David Polk attended The First Tee national meeting last year in Nashville, Tenn., the discussion eventually turned to the board, governing and leadership.
The meeting’s facilitator asked the Executive Directors in attendance how often they talked with their Board Chairman. All hands were raised at “every couple of months” and “once a month,” most were lowered at “every two weeks” and only one, Polk’s, remained in the air at “once a week.”
Polk, now in his fourth year as President and Executive Director of The First Tee of Connecticut, then stunned the moderator when he revealed his relationship with his Chairman, Ted May.
“I virtually talk to or communicate with him about The First Tee of Connecticut (TFTCT) just about every day,” Polk said. “If I’m not getting an email or text, then we’re talking on the phone. That’s how committed he is, and it’s at 10 o’clock at night, it’s first thing in the morning, it’s on the drive to work. Of course we’re friends – I’ve known him for 40 years – but his dedication to The First Tee and making golf available to every kid, he’s a giant.”
After being a driving force for more than four decades behind the Insurance City Open/Greater Hartford Open/Buick Championship/Travelers Championship co-founded by his father in 1952, May found “a new baby” when he spearheaded the birth of The First Tee of Connecticut. What started with 50 youngsters in the “Mayor Mike’s Golf Club for Kids” program at Goodwin and Keney Golf Clubs in Hartford in 1999 has grown into one of Connecticut’s all-time success stories with more than 67,000 kids learning about golf and the Nine Core Values at 14 outdoor facilities and 147 schools statewide each year.
So few people deserve a place in the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame more than May, who joins his father, Ed, as only the second father-son tandem to earn induction. Ironically, the other duo, Bobby and Jimmy Grant, is also from Wethersfield Country Club.
“My dad had passed away when he was selected (in 2002), so I gave his acceptance speech and that was a very proud moment for our family,” May said. “To be a father-son combination is tremendous.”
Polk said May’s induction “is long overdue.”
“Ted May has done more for junior golf, and golf in general, than anyone else I can think of in the state,” Polk said. “He has been involved in so many different aspects of the game and is an amazing guy to work with. And knowing how dedicated he is to the game and how much he has done to grow the game in this state, I can’t think of anyone more deserving and couldn’t be more pleased for the guy.”
May, 67, began volunteering at what was then the Sammy Davis Jr.-GHO in the mid-1970s and was tournament chairman of “The Last Blast at Wethersfield” in 1983. May then helped oversee a move to TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, a bridge plan and solicitation of Buick and Travelers as title sponsors to keep the tournament alive after Canon pulled out in 2003.
May was born in Hartford and grew up in Wethersfield alongside the second hole at Wethersfield CC, where he played and caddied. He also played at Goodwin and attended Williams College, where he was co-captain his senior year and helped the Ephmen win the New England Championship to qualify for the NCAA Championship.
After graduating from Williams, May entered a sales management training program with Phoenix Mutual Insurance Co. In 1985, he formed May, Bonee & Walsh, an independent insurance and financial services company now in Glastonbury. May and his wife, Debbie, live in Wethersfield and have three children who have been tournament volunteers.
May was Chairman of numerous tournament committees and has been a member of the management committee since 1982. After being Tournament Chairman, he was the liaison between the PGA Tour and tournament for 25 years, his major duties being player recruitment and serving on the long-range planning committee.
May’s major project these days is TFTCT, which he started with Kent Scully in Hartford in 1996. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem thought so much of what May, Scully and others were doing that they suggested Hartford become part of The First Tee, a creation of the World Golf Foundation that included every major golf organization in the world. The First Tee not only teaches golf, it teaches life skills, including Nine Core Values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.
The First Tee of Hartford merged with the Connecticut Golf Foundation to become The First Tee of Connecticut and expanded into New Haven, Waterbury, Bridgeport and later Fairfield County in conjunction with the Metropolitan New York First Tee. Northeast Utilities leased 104 acres north of the TPC River Highlands to TFTCT through the Greater Hartford Community Foundation that were ultimately used for parking, a state-of-the-art practice range, the four-hole Karl Krapek Family Learning Links and the David and Geri Epstein Learning Center.
“I don’t think anyone really realizes the magnitude of the project until they come and see everything,” May said. “This is about kids and their lives, how they become better students, are more responsible, understand honesty and sportsmanship, earn college scholarships and are going to national academies in the summer. This is way beyond golf, and we want to give the kids a golf experience with planned activities such as summer camps and mentoring programs with colleges and universities.”
Trying to choose from among hundreds of memories with the PGA Tour’s annual stop in Connecticut and The First Tee program was plenty difficult for May. But he has special feelings about the 50th anniversary celebration in 2001 that included the return of most of the tournament’s past champions, including PGA Hall of Famers Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Lee Trevino and Billy Casper. He also takes pride in the Jaycees putting together a $4 million bridge plan in 2003 that kept the tournament alive and led to Buick and Travelers becoming the title sponsor and expanding the event to unprecedented heights.
“We were at risk (of losing the tournament),” May said of those gut-wrenching days 11 years ago. “Now the tournament is so important to the region. It puts Connecticut on the air in 200 countries around the world.”
Dan Kleinman, the 1976 GHO chairman and the tournament’s longtime legal counsel, has known May for 40 years and said Connecticut is fortunate to have someone like him.
“Ted has understood the value of golf to business and to kids and has always done stuff to make a difference in peoples’ lives,” Kleinman said. “As successful as he has been in business, he has been more successful in the tournament and The First Tee. There was a fire inside to make sure the tournament stayed alive, and that’s connected to his father and the honor and legacy that he wanted to keep alive.”
One of the greatest players in Connecticut golf history, Roy Pace enters the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 2014 in the category of “Distinguished Golf Achievement.”
Pace played the PGA Tour for more than ten years from the early 1960s through the early 1970s. He competed in a total of 178 PGA Tour events, made 163 cuts, and recorded fifteen top-10 finishes. In 1971 he won the Magnolia Classic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Magnolia was played opposite the Masters each year and featured the best players in the world who were not otherwise eligible for Augusta. In addition to Pace, past winners include Craig Stadler and Payne Stewart.
Pace played college golf at Louisiana Tech University where he won the Gulf States individual title three times. He visited Connecticut often during his time on the PGA Tour, and worked as the Assistant Professional at one of Connecticut’s most historic and prestigious clubs, Wee Burn Country Club in Darien in 1966 and 1967. Pace was a back-to-back winner of the Connecticut Open in 1966 at Tumble Brook Country Club, and in 1967 at the Golf Club of Avon. He also won the Westchester (N.Y.) Open in 1967.
In 1976 Pace began a twenty-three year career as the Head Golf Professional at Wee Burn Country Club. At Wee Burn, Pace further immersed himself into teaching the game to others and continued to earn national and regional acclaim. A consummate head professional, more than twenty of his assistants have become head professionals at golf facilities in the United States.
Longtime Wee Burn member, Rich Duffy described Pace as “an excellent and most worthy candidate for the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame. Roy has been a tremendous player and teacher for his entire career, but more importantly, Roy and his wife Sandy are just great people.”
While at Wee Burn, Pace received the Bill Strausbaugh Employment Award in 1983 and 1984, and in 1987, Pace was named the Metropolitan PGA Golf Professional of the Year. The following year in 1988, Pace earned the Metropolitan PGA Teacher of the Year award.
Pace’s career in Connecticut and in particular his span at Wee Burn from 1976 through 1999, established his national reputation as an energetic and tireless teacher with an unrivaled passion for the game. He moved back to his hometown of Longview, Texas after his time in Darien and quickly made his mark within the North and East Texas PGA Sections. For the past twenty-five years Pace has also partnered with top-100 teacher, Ted Sheftic in directing the Pace Sheftic Golf School in Vero Beach, Florida.
Presently co-owner of the Alpine Target Golf Center in Longview, Pace has continued to garner recognition and awards for his teaching prowess. For five consecutive years, from 2004 through 2008 he was named a “Top-50 Instructor in America” by Golf Range Magazine, and in 2001 and again in 2011 he was named the East Texas PGA Teacher of the Year.
In recent years, much of Pace’s work has centered around young golfers. He was named a Top-50 US Kids Instructor in 2007, and from 2006 through 2011 he received three Junior Leader Awards from the PGA Section. In 2009, Pace established the First Tee of Piney Woods in Longview and continues to serve as president of the chapter.
About his most recent accomplishment and award Pace said, “It is a great honor for me to be inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame. I will always have fond memories of Connecticut. The Connecticut Opens, my years as golf professional at Wee Burn Country Club and my association with the CSGA all have their own stories that I will never forget. Our common ground of loving the game of golf makes this honor even better to me.”
At the age of 73, former PGA Tour player and longtime Wee Burn head professional Roy Pace still spends most of his day giving golf lessons, and sharing with his students a lifetime of unique knowledge and love of the game.