Peggy Kirk Bell - North Carolina's First Lady of Golf
Peggy Kirk Bell moved to Southern Pines, North Carolina, in 1953 when she and her late husband, Warren (Bullet) Bell purchased what was then the Pine Needles Golf Course. A native of Findlay, Ohio, she became one of the owners of Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club, also in Southern Pines, NC, in 1994. Both resorts feature classic Donald Ross golf courses that date back to 1921 (Mid Pines built in 1921 and Pine Needles built in 1927). When the Bells purchased Pine Needles in 1953, one of her first projects was establishing a unique series of golf schools, called "Golfari". With the help and leadership of her good friend, Ellen Griffin, she became a pioneer in the creation of golf schools and is one of golf's finest teachers.
As an amateur in the 1940s, Mrs. Bell was one of the nation's best players. She won the Ohio Women's Amateur three times and also captured the famed North and South Amateur in Pinehurst, one of the game's most prestigious events. Other major wins were the Eastern Amateur and the Augusta Titleholders.
Mrs. Bell was a charter member (not a founder) of the LPGA. In 1947 as an amateur, she teamed with Babe Zaharias to capture the International Four Ball Championship and was a member of the USGA Curtis Cup Team in 1950. She became a professional in the fall of 1950 and played as a professional for Spalding Sporting Goods in January of 1951. She also played on the first professional Weathervane Team in 1952.
Throughout her career as a player and resort owner, Mrs. Bell has been a tireless contributor to the game of golf. For her many contributions, she has been the recipient of numerous major awards, including the USGA's Bob Jones Award, The Golf Writers Association's William Richardson Award, the LPGA's Ellen Griffin Rolex Award, the National Golf Foundation's Joe Graffis Award, and the National Golf Course Owners Order of Merit. She is in seven Halls of Fame, a master professional, active in a number of civic, charitable and sports organizations, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Mrs. Bell has written two books, A Woman's Way to Better Golf and The Gift of Golf. She has participated in two instructional video tapes: "How to Play Your Best Golf," and "Women's Golf" and is a frequent contributor to such golf publications as Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Golf World, Par Magazine and Golf for Women magazine.
The USGA awarded Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club the 1996 & 2001 U.S. Women's Opens where Mrs. Bell served as honorary chairman. The event returns to Pine Needles in 2007.
Born: October 28, 1921, in Findlay, Ohio
Married: Warren (Bullet) Bell of Findlay, Ohio in 1953. Bullet was a former basketball player for the Fort Wayne Pistons (today's Detroit Pistons). He and Peggy worked as a team, he built and operated Pine Needles Resort and she headed up the golf. Mr. Bell died in 1984.
Children: Daughters, Bonnie and Peggy Ann; and son, Kirk, all of Southern Pines and eight grandchildren.
Bonnie is married to Pat McGowan, a former PGA touring pro and Director of Instruction at Pine Needles. They have two children. Peggy Ann is married to Kelly Miller, Chief Operating Officer of both Pine Needles and Mid Pines. They have three children. Kirk is married to the former Holly Spofford. She is Director of Marketing at Pine Needles and Mid Pines. They have a daughter and twin sons.
Education: Attended Boston University's Sargent College of Physical Education, Boston, MA., 1939-41. Graduated with a degree in education from Rollins College, Winter Park, FL, 1943. She holds honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Findlay (Ohio), Methodist College (NC), and Sandhills Community College (NC).
Honors and Awards
- United Way 2005 Cornerstone Award, Feb, 2005
- Pinehurst Magazine - One of 10 "Most Influential People" 2000, 2005
- North Carolinian of the Year 2004, NC Press Association- July, 2004
- Golf Magazine's World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, first woman inductee, Jan.2004
- Inducted into the NC Business Hall of Fame, 2002
- Gladys Palmer Meritorious Service Award, 2002
- Inducted into the LPGA (Teaching Division) HALL OF FAME, 2000
- Top 100 Teachers - Golf Magazine (past several years), 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
- Top 50 Teaches - Golf for Women - 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004
- Recipient - NC High School Athletic Assn. Legend Award, 1999
- Member - Jack Nicklaus Captain's Club, The Memorial Tournament, Invited -1998
- Recipient - NC Governor's Award, 1998
- Distinguished Women of NC Award, 1992
- Fort Findlay (Ohio) Award
- Former Member - NC Governor's Advisory Council for Travel & Tourism
- Former Board Member and now Life Trustee - Fellowship of Christian Athletes
- Member - Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hall of Fame
- Honorary Chairman, US Women's Open Golf Championship, 1996, 2001 and 2007
- Honorary doctorate, Sandhills Community College, 1996
- Recipient - Order of Merit, National Golf Course Owners Association, 1995
- Honorary doctorate, Methodist College, 1994
- Honorary doctorate, University of Findlay, 1993
- Recipient - Golf Writers Assn. Of America's William Richardson Award, 1993
- Member - Ohio Golf Hall of Fame, 1992
- Recipient - USGA Bob Jones Award, 1990
- Recipient - LPGA/Ellen Griffin Rolex Award, 1989
- Named - One of five most influential women in Golf by Golf Digest magazine
- Named - One of six best women instructors in USA by Golf Digest magazine
- Named - Top 100 instructors by Golf Magazine
- Named - Top LPGA Master Professional, 1985
- Member - National Golf Foundation's Joe Graffis Award, 1981
- Member - Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame, 1981
- Member - NC Sports Hall of Fame, 1976
- LPGA Teacher of the Year, 1961
- Consultant - Spalding Sporting Goods staff, 1950
- Winner of the 1947 International Four Ball teamed with Babe D. Zaharias
- Ohio Amateur Champion - 1947, 1948, 1949
- Titleholder Champion - 1949
- North - South Champion - 1949
- Eastern Amateur Champion - 1950
- Member of the 1950 USGA Curtis Cup Team