2011 Hall of Fame inductees announced
Jim Frazier, who was the leader of the Phoenix Thunderbirds when that civic organization moved the Phoenix Open to the TPC Scottsdale and turned it into one of golf’s most successful events, is among three people who have been elected to the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame. Joining Frazier in the Class of 2011 are Barbara Burton, who has devoted more than 30 years of volunteer work to junior golf programs in Arizona, and Ron McPherson, a former state amateur champion who is now the president and CEO of the Antigua Group Inc., based in Peoria. The trio will be inducted Nov. 21 at Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale after the completion of a pro-am scramble tournament. All three have been involved with golf on various levels, all began playing as kids and all became proficient amateur players. Barbara Burton is not a stranger to prestigious honors. Last year, she received the Ike Grainger Award for volunteerism from the U.S. Golf Association and the Updegraff Award presented by the AGA to individuals who exemplify the spirit of the game. But her induction to the Arizona Hall came as a “big surprise.” “I got goose bumps,” said Burton, who moved to Arizona in 1979. “I was pretty shocked to be honest. I knew it had been considered in the past, but when it actually happens, it’s pretty exciting.” Burton grew up in Worthington, Minn., and started playing golf at 12 years old with her father as her instructor. She won club championships on her home courses in Minnesota and Omaha, and has won eight women’s club titles at Pinnacle Peak Country Club, the last one in 1992. She also won the Arizona Women’s Golf Association’s State Scotch Play title in 1985 and ’87. But she is best known as a mentor to young golfers, several of whom have gone on to become college stars and LPGA Tour players, such as Cheyenne Woods of Phoenix and Sarah Brown of Tucson. “It has been so much fun to see the enthusiasm, to see these girls learn and grow into special individuals,” Burton said. “I have truly enjoyed watching it and being part of it.” Burton, a former physical education teacher, got involved in coaching girls through the urging of Sharon Farr, the mother of the late Heather Farr and her sister Missy, who were prominent Arizona junior golfers in the 1970s. She captained the Girls Junior America’s Cup Team for nine years, has worked as an organizer and rules official for countless state and national championships, and has served on the USGA Junior Girls’ Committee for 25 years. A native of Des Moines, Jim Frazier played for the University of Iowa before entering the Marine Corps, where he reached the rank of captain. He entered banking as a management trainee in 1966 and six years later was promoted to senior vice president. Frazier left banking to become the Thunderbirds’ first executive director in 1990 and retired from that post in 2003. While he was serving as Thunderbirds Big Chief (president) in 1987, the Phoenix Open moved from Phoenix Country Club to the TPC Scottsdale. There, the PGA Tour event has flourished, drawing the largest galleries in golf with upwards of a half-million people attending during the week and making it one of Arizona’s most prominent sporting events. Frazier isn’t about to take credit for it, however. “There were many people who were responsible for that success,” he said. “Over the years I have gotten credit for it, but I just happened to be the one sitting at the head of the table when it happened.” Frazier, 73, also served as chairman of the Open and has earned more “honor beads” for his service than anyone in the history of the Thunderbirds – so many, in fact, that he can’t wear them all at once. He also helped found the Junior Golf Association of Arizona, is a two-time president of the Arizona Golf Association and has served on the AGA and Pacific Coast Golf Association boards. He received the AGA’s Champion of Golf Award for service to the game in 2010. He has been a member of Moon Valley Country Club for 40 years and plays to a 3.9 handicap. He says the Hall of Fame honor is “exciting but very humbling.” “Golf has been so good to me, it’s hard to know where to start talking about it,” Frazier said. “I have traveled the world, met just about every significant player in the last 40 years and been fortunate to get to know so many wonderful, caring people. I find it very humbling that I am being recognized for my involvement in golf when it has given me so much more than I have given it. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without it.” Ron McPherson, who was born in Montana and grew up in Wyoming, literally worked his way from the bottom to the top of Antigua, where he was the very first hire (sales manager) in 1979 of a company then called Eagle Golf. From humble beginnings in a Scottsdale warehouse with one embroidery machine, Antigua has grown into one of the nation’s leading brands in lifestyle apparel and accessories. It has expanded into other sports, including an NFL licensing agreement for 2012, but remains most prominent in golf, and in 2011 was the official outfitter of the U.S. Solheim Cup team. McPherson took over as president of Antigua when its founder, Tom Dooley, sold out in 1997 and added CEO to his title in 2003. “I moved here initially to play and when I realized that wasn’t going to work as a career, I moved to the other side of the counter into the supply side of golf,” McPherson said. “So to have this (induction) happen is a huge honor. I was quite taken back by it.” On the course, McPherson was Wyoming state amateur champion in 1968 and ’70. He is a member of Ancala Country Club and remains a scratch golfer. His company is a primary sponsor of virtually every significant golf organization and event in the state and McPherson also has been active in raising funds for cancer research through the Banner Health Foundation. Among other things, Antigua has sponsored the Antigua Junior Tour for more than 20 years and sponsored the National High School Championships in Scottsdale in September. “One of our goals in growing the company through the ’80s and ’90s was to be an important part of the local golf community, so we’ve done everything we could to stay involved with various sponsorships, especially junior golf,” McPherson said. “The development of young players is very important to us.” McPherson has received the Spirit of Philanthropy Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals and in 2006 was given the Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contributions to golf by the PGA of America. The induction ceremony is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. after a 5 p.m. cocktail hour. A better-ball tournament, which ideally will feature one pro and three amateurs in each group, will start at 12 p.m., with registration at 11 a.m. The cost is $175 per player. For more information, contact Maureen LaMantia at 602-944-3035 or 800-458-8484.