Threesome Elected to Michigan Golf Hall of Fame

Midnight Golf to Receive Special Award

BIG RAPIDS – Jennifer Kangas-Brody, a former LPGA Tour player originally from the Upper Peninsula, Art McCafferty, a multi-media golf publisher and producer, and the late John Molenda, a longtime Knollwood Country Club professional who won the Michigan Open and the Michigan PGA Professional championships, have been elected to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

  The trio will be inducted on Oct. 16 at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Club, home of the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center that houses the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame. The 2022 class will bring the number of inductees to 134.

  In addition, the MGHOF has voted to present just its fifth Special Award in history to the Midnight Golf Program and its founder Renee Fluker, whose landmark program since 2001 has used dedicated volunteers and PGA professionals to teach golf and life skills and help guide over 3,700 Detroit youth into colleges and professional careers.

  “This talented threesome reflects the best of Michigan golf in playing ability, service to the industry and the making and telling of Michigan’s wonderful golf stories, and Midnight Golf is one of those stories because of its remarkable impact on Detroit’s youth and the community,” said Greg Johnson, MGHOF committee chairperson, in announcing the 2022 class. “Mark your calendars now to come help us celebrate in October at the Hall of Fame.” 

  Kangas-Brody, 48 and a golf shop owner, merchandizer and LPGA instructor at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc with her husband, PGA professional Doug Brody, is a former LPGA Tour golfer and Michigan State University standout from the Upper Peninsula. She earned all-state honors at L’Anse High School, was an All-Big Ten golfer and team captain at MSU. She won the Michigan Women’s Open soon after graduating from MSU, turned professional in 1997 and in 1998 played full-time on the LPGA Tour. She won four times on the now Epson Tour, and in 2004 started teaching and coaching. The mother of two is a member of the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame. 

  McCafferty, 81, is a familiar figure in Michigan golf with his wife Jennie making the rounds of tournaments and events. The owner of Great Lakes Sports Publications has produced almost 6,000 YouTube interviews, reports and shows on all aspects of the game, published the Michigan Golfer magazine from 1983 to 2003 with Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member Terry Moore as editor and continues to collect and produce content and distributes a well-read digital Michigan golf newsletter. An educator at Eastern Michigan University by trade, he and Jennie have also produced and published content on running, skiing and travel.

  Molenda, who died in 2004 at the age of 65, was a Detroit native and Novi resident who played golf at the University of Arizona and on the U.S. Army golf team. In 1961 he was the runner-up to Dick Sikes in the U.S. Public Links Championship. He was a PGA golf professional serving the membership at Knollwood Country Club for 29 years. A standout player throughout his career, he won the 1968 Michigan Open, the 1971 Michigan PGA, played in the national PGA Professional Championship 10 times, played in two U.S. Opens, played in the 1972 PGA Championship and won the 1990 Michigan Senior Open Championship. He was named the Michigan PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1985.

  The MGHOF is a heralded collection of portraits, plaques and memorabilia that currently commemorates 131 members, including Walter Hagen and Chuck Kocsis and Al Watrous, and more current notables Dan Pohl, Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins. The collection is housed and displayed in the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center at Ferris State University’s Katke facility. The late Ken Janke Sr. is co-founder and a member of the MGHOF.

The MGHOF is administered by the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame Committee, which is funded through the non-profit Michigan Golf Foundation (501(c) (3) since 1996) and includes 17 people representing a cross-section of the state’s golf associations as well as golf media. The MGHOF committee conducts an annual election to recognize the achievements of competitive Michigan golfers, but also accomplishments of individuals who have contributed to the growth of the game. For more information and to learn about the current members of the Hall of Fame, visit mghof.org.

Michigan, LPGA, Golf World Mourn Passing of Pioneer Shirley Spork

(l to r) Shirley Spork, Betty Richart, Mary Fossum

Shirley Spork was one of the 13 original founders of the LPGA with the likes of Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Patty Berg, but first she was a self-described Tomboy from Michigan who loved golf.

The Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member, who just recently found out she was finally going into the LPGA Hall of Fame, died Tuesday in Palm Springs, Calif., at the age of 94.

  “She was always very gracious and would come back to Michigan to help out Eastern Michigan (University) and was always willing to support women’s golf in any way she could,” said Sara Wold, president emeritus of the Golf Association of Michigan and a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member.

  “She was easy to be friends with, just so friendly and funny with all her stories. I remember when she came back for the 100th Michigan Women’s Amateur celebration. She told stories all night long and we all learned a lot from her and laughed with her.”

  Shirley started playing with one club, an old putter from a dime store bin at age 10. She became a regular visitor to Bonnie Brook Golf Course in Detroit (8 Mile and Telegraph), where hole 17 was next to her family home. Her father served as the property’s caretaker while the country emerged from The Great Depression.

  The boys laughed at the girl with one club, but she endured and became one of the world’s best women golfers.

  While attending Eastern Michigan University (then called Michigan State Normal College) to earn a teaching degree, she was the individual winner of the 1947 Intercollegiate Championship, in essence a forerunner to today’s NCAA championship. At home she won the Women’s District Golf Association’s Match Play Championship three times in four years, and then won the 1949 Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship.

After graduating from EMU where the golf team hosts the annual Shirley Spork Invitational these days, Spork taught in the Detroit Public Schools, but she decided she would rather play golf.

  She turned professional in 1950 at the urging of Zaharias and played on the original LPGA Tour. Her top finishes included a second in what became the LPGA Championship and she tied for eighth in a U.S. Women’s Open.

  “Babe put her hand on my head and said I deem you a pro, and that was it,” Spork said in an interview at Spring Meadows Country Club in Linden six years ago. “We had quite a group and I have some great memories of our adventures on the road.”

She admitted she found tour golf a tough road, especially while also getting a Master’s degree in education and teaching golf while at Bowling Green State University. She then became a golf pioneer again as a teacher, helping found the LPGA Teaching Division in 1959 and is in that group’s Hall of Fame.

  Spork was honored in recent years ago by the Women’s Michigan Golf Association with celebrated Michigan State coach Mary Fossum and former USGA and GAM leader Betty Richart of Ann Arbor, and she came home to Michigan and took part in the 100th Michigan Women’s Amateur celebration in 2016 at age 89. At that time, she was still giving putting lessons to anyone wise enough to ask.

  Marlene Hagge is now the only living LPGA founder.

  “The game gave me so much and I just try to give it to others,” Spork said in 2016. “I love teaching the game, love to see somebody get it and enjoy it. I love watching these young women play today. I let them know there were some great players who paved the way for them and great women who made it possible for their opportunities to play today.”

  Wold said Spork, a 1989 inductee into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, was very proud of being the Founder of the LPGA Teaching Division, probably her most important contribution.

   “She was also proud of reaching her goal for her Endowment Fund at Eastern Michigan University for the Women’s Golf Team,” she said. “Shirley embraced all her friendships and was always ready to tell a story about the Founders of the LPGA. She was an inspiration to so many.”

The GAM and Michigan Golf Hall of Fame will pass along memorial and funeral information as it becomes available.