Originally created 05/08/02

Clubmakers induct Augustan into hall of fame



The news came out of the blue.

After all, Augusta's Bernie Porter, the extraordinary golf clubmaker and repair man, had been retired 14 years when the news came down early this year.

Porter, who ran the Augusta Club Shop from 1965-1988, was informed that he'd been elected to the Professional Clubmakers' Society's Hall of Fame.

"I knew about it (the hall of fame), sure, but I never expected to be in it," the 83-year-old Porter said.

It was fitting honor for the man who built and repaired clubs for thousands of Augustans and 16 Masters Tournament winners - 14 of them in the year they won the major championship.

Porter was particularly close to Arnold Palmer, a four-time Masters champion. Palmer was so impressed with Porter's work that he invited him on numerous occasions to work in Palmer's shop in Latrobe, Pa.

Porter and the late Elmore Just of Louisville, Ky., were inducted at the hall's home, in Louisville, Ky. They were the 22nd and 23rd honorees in the hall, which was established in 1994. Porter is the only one in the hall from Georgia.

"There's no other feeling like it," Porter said of being recognized at the induction ceremony. "There's no way to describe it because you're being honored by your peers."

It was ironic Porter and Just, who founded the Professional Clubmakers' Society in 1989, went into the hall together. Porter had been nominated for induction by Just, who visited Porter's shop many times during the Masters. Just died in April 2001, only two months after nominating Porter.

According to the Professional Clubmakers' Society, Porter "espoused professionalism, warned of the dangers of ill-fitted and badly made equipment, shared his expertise, promoted workshop safety, knew the history of clubmaking, and was a student of his craft."

In the 1970s and 1980s Porter wrote a periodic column called "Club Repair" for Golf Industry magazine. In a 1977 column, he wrote "the true and dedicated repairman has a sense of pride in knowing that he has used the best possible parts and put the best of his ability into his labor of love, and believe me, if you don't like it, don't do it."

GOOD CAUSE: Aiken's Mary Jane Lock has created a memorial fund in the name of her late husband, Frank Lock Jr., that will fund a program to introduce children in the Aiken area to golf.

The fund will help support a National Alliance for Youth Sports' Hook-A-Kid on Golf program in Aiken. The program, which was established in 1981, has 2,000 chapters around the country.

Frank Lock Jr., who died May 22, 2000, was one of the top golfers in the area and a strong community leader. He held the course record of 9-under-par 62 at Palmetto Golf Club from 1968-1997. In the community, Lock was the founding president of the Aiken Sertoma Club.

Joe Spencer spearheaded a committee along with Mary Jane Lock, Ryan Brourton and Dick Sears to find a program that would help assist Aiken youngsters in paying expenses to learn how to play golf. Spencer learned of the Hook-A-Kid on Golf program, and the committee adopted it.

Since then, Glenn Parker and Michael Gates of the City of Aiken Parks and Recreation Department have joined the committee, along with Palmetto Golf Club head pro Tom Moore, Dr. Steve VanDerVleit, Jim Howell and Randy Few.

The Hook-A-Kid on Golf program will start with two clinics: June 10-14 and June 17-21. For more information, call Gates at the parks and recreation department (803-642-7631).

YOUNG GUN: James McNair III, the 13-year-old son of Aiken Golf Club owner Jim McNair Jr., has been breaking par at the par-70 course. The young McNair, an eighth-grader at Schofield Middle School in Aiken, recently shot a 1-under-par 69 at the course in a dogfight match.

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851.