UNIVERSAL CITY, Oct. 19—Southland golf legends Dave Stockton, Sr. and Al Geiberger, both standout players and influential in the golf industry, lead the fourth class of the 2010 Southern California Golf Association Hall of Fame, inducted Oct. 19 in Universal City following the SCGA Annual Meeting.
The duo, along with SCGA and The Los Angeles Country Club founder Joseph Sartori, were honored as some of Southland golf's most significant names. Sartori was inducted posthumously, while Stockton and Geiberger, along with friends and family, were present. The SCGA Hall of Fame was begun in 2007 to recognize and honor those people who have shaped the game of golf in Southern California.
Geiberger, 73, of Palm Desert, is known as “Mr. 59” for being the first player to shoot that score during a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. His amateur career, however, foreshadowed what his professional success would eventually be. Geiberger is a two-time winner of the SCGA Amateur Championship (1956 and 1959), both of which he captured as a player on University of Southern California's golf team. He turned pro soon after graduation, after winning 11 straight championships as an amateur, and would go on to win 11 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1966 PGA Championship. He was also a member of the 1967 and 1975 Ryder Cup teams.
After health issues sidelined Geiberger in 1978, he returned to the PGA Tour in 1982 and was awarded the Golf Writers Association of America’s Ben Hogan Award for remaining active in golf despite a physical handicap. He would later win another 10 times while on the Champions Tour, finishing his career with 29 professional victories.
It was during the second round of the 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic at Colonial Country Club, however, that he would do what had yet to be done: collect six pars, 11 birdies and one eagle to shoot a 13-under-par 59. As coincidence might have it, Stockton was keeping his score that day.
“Dave and I are opposites, but we’re also a pair,” Geiberger said with a laugh. “Being inducted into this Hall of Fame is an honor, and brings back some great memories. It’s perfect.”
USC Men’s Golf Coach Kurt Schuette inducted Geiberger, with members of the current USC men’s golf team watching in the audience.
“When Al shot 59, my dad and I were in the living room watching it on TV together,” Schuette said. “My dad cried like a baby.”
Stockton, 68, born and raised in Southern California and currently residing in Redlands, is the son of a golf pro—having grown up on the course, he was groomed for a career in the game. He followed Geiberger on the USC golf team, winning the Pacific-8 Championship like his father and turning professional in 1964. It began a whirlwind PGA Tour career of 10 wins, beginning in 1967 with the Colonial National Invitation and three years later, his first of two PGA Championships (1970 and 1976). He played on two Ryder Cup teams—1971 and 1977—and was the captain of the 1991 U.S. squad.
The same year Stockton guided the U.S. Ryder Cup team to victory at Kiawah Island, he joined the Champions Tour and would go on to win 14 times, including three senior majors: the 1992 and 1994 Senior Players Championships, and the 1996 U.S. Senior Open.
During his career, Stockton never lost sight of the importance of interacting with golfers of all skill levels, and has been known since the 1970s as the “King of Corporate Outings” thanks to participating in dozens of corporate and motivational days per year. Stockton’s putting prowess has created a successful and in-demand business of corporate outings, instructional videos and motivational speaking, but has equally helped him emerge as golf’s short-game guru. Among other players, Stockton has worked as Phil Mickelson’s putting coach, credited in part to snapping Mickelson’s two-year putting slump in 2009 to help him win the Tour Championship.
Stockton was inducted in an emotional speech given by longtime friend, and owner/general manager of San Bernardino Golf Club, Tom Self.
“This is really special and it’s made me introspective into what my career has really been about,” Stockton said. “The memories of friends and family are wonderful…the special part is being inducted with Al.”
Sartori (1858-1946) was one of Southern California golf’s major voices for nearly 50 years, as well as significantly impacted the growth of the area as a whole. One of the original founders of the Southern California Golf Association in 1899, as well as The Los Angeles Country Club two years before, Sartori was also instrumental in building Southern California foundations in real estate, oil and gas, water, transportation, municipal bonds, banking legislation and philanthropy.
With training as a lawyer under his belt, Sartori wrote the original constitution and bylaws for the SCGA. The association’s first meeting was held in his office in downtown Los Angeles, where he was elected secretary. Sartori was later president of the SCGA from 1903-04, and remained president of The Los Angeles Country Club from 1912 until his death in 1946. The annual invitational held at The Los Angeles Country Club is named in honor of Sartori. Sartori was inducted by The Los Angeles Country Club’s Vice President, Michael McRoskey.
The collection of memorabilia on display at the induction ceremony included three replica Wanamaker trophies, Stockton’s Ryder Cup souvenirs, Geiberger’s “59” golf clubs and the leather-bound history of The Los Angeles Country Club penned by Sartori.
Geiberger, Stockton and Sartori join a list of impressive names in past Hall of Fame classes, including “The Little Pro” Eddie Merrins, award-winning sportswriter Jim Murray, trailblazing women golfers Babe Didrickson Zaharias and Mickey Wright, and prolific tournament winner Billy Casper. Renowned golf artist Scott Medlock is the official artist of the SCGA Hall of Fame, and has created portraits of each inductee since inception that are on display at the SCGA’s headquarters in Studio City.
“After some time, you think everyone’s forgotten about you,” Geiberger said, “so it’s nice to be remembered.”