On April 16, the Ohio Golf Association announced its 2021 Ohio Golf Hall of Fame class. To the surprise of no one except the recipients, LPGA Tour greats Meg Mallon and Rosie Jones join USGA president Stu Francis as this year’s honorees.
“I had no idea,” Mallon said of the call she received with the news of the honor. “I understand that this is the first year that they opened up the voting to prior Hall of Fame members. It was done via committee before. Rosie and I were unanimous (picks), which was really nice.”
Previous inductees into the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame include legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Peggy Kirk Bell, Tom Weiskopf, Renee Powell, Dow Finsterwald and Tammie Green, among others.
Of course, neither Jones nor Mallon are native Ohioans. Rosie is originally from California while Meg grew up in Michigan. But both played collegiately at Ohio State and have strong ties to the Buckeyes.
“We’re proud to be a part of the Ohio State legacy,” Mallon said. “I’m from Michigan and it was always a big deal that a kid from Michigan went to Ohio State. But I love my Ohio State family. And I have a big connection to the state professionally around the Toledo tournament. That was the first professional tournament I ever played in as an amateur. I had won the Michigan State Amateur and they invited me to play (in what is now the Marathon LPGA Classic). So, I played my first professional event in Toledo and when I retired, I made it my last event. And I won it in between. So, it’s always been very special.”
Jones agreed, saying, “We both played a lot of golf, not just at Ohio State, but throughout our careers. We had regular tour events in Ohio; we had U.S. Women’s Opens in Ohio; we had Solheim Cups in Ohio. Both of us have always had a strong affiliation with Ohio and Ohio State.
We both contribute time and money to the program there. And to be able to go into the Hall of Fame in Ohio is such a blessing, really.”
The Ohio Golf Association has always been liberal in their definition of Ohio golfers. Arnold Palmer, famously from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, is in the Ohio hall, not just because he got his first job as a paint salesman in Cleveland, but also because of all his contributions to the state. The same is true for Byron Nelson, who grew up in Fort Worth, Texas with Ben Hogan and retired to a ranch there after his playing career ended. But Nelson was also the head professional at Inverness Club for many years.
For her part, Mallon, who won 18 times on the LPGA Tour including four major championships, is thrilled to be a part of this class and is happy to be remembered for her connection to the state.
“My senior year we went to the Rose Bowl with all my roommates and friends,” she said. “Just being a part of Ohio State athletics was so special. They are so great to all their athletes. It was a wonderful experience.”
Jones, who won 13 times on the LPGA Tour and played on seven winning Solheim Cup teams, agreed, saying, “I was really stunned when I got the call. Very excited and very flattered, not just to be inducted but to be in the same class as Stu and Meg Mallon is a real treat. I have such high regards for both of those people.
“Meg being such a great friend and competitor on tour for all those years, it’s really great to go in together with her.”
Inductions will take place at Plum Brook Country Club in Sandusky, Ohio on Monday, August 2.