MANAKIN-SABOT — Dr. Lew Blakey, Robbye King Unger, Bobby Wadkins and the late Lew Worsham will be honored Tuesday night as part of the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 induction ceremony at Hermitage Country Club.
Those four join the two previous induction classes in the Hall of Fame. The 2017 class included Donna Andrews, Keith Decker, J.C. Snead and Wallace McDowell. The Inaugural Class of 2016 featured Vinny Giles, Chandler Harper, Clyde Luther, Sam Snead, Curtis Strange and Lanny Wadkins.
The induction ceremony and dinner will feature guests and dignitaries from the USGA, VSGA, Middle Atlantic PGA, and Middle Atlantic Golf Association, among others.
Full bios of all 14 Virginia Golf Hall of Fame inductees can be found online at virginiagolfhalloffame.com. The website features rooms and exhibits on all 14 inductees, along with news, information on the selection committee, and a nomination form for potential future Hall of Fame members.
The three living members of the Class of 2017 will be present at the ceremony, along with 2016 inductees Giles and Lanny Wadkins. Rick Worsham, Lew’s son, will accept on behalf of his father. Golf Channel/NBC personality Gary Koch will emcee the event.
Blakey is the second longtime Rules expert to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining Luther, who passed away in March at the age of 88. The two were close friends, and Blakey credited Luther for sparking his interest in becoming a volunteer Rules official.
Blakey is a past president of the Middle Atlantic Golf Association and a member of that organization’s Hall of Fame. Blakey joined the USGA Executive Committee in 2001 and served for the next six years while serving as a member of the joint R&A/USGA Rules of Golf Committee during that time as well. In 2007, he was honored as the MAPGA’s David Wortman Citizen of the Year.
Unger will be the second woman to be inducted into the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame. One of the most decorated female competitors in VSGA history, Unger won six VSGA Women’s Amateur Championships while appearing in four other title matches. She won her first Women’s Amateur in 1963 and won five more between 1966 and 72.
Unger was a semifinalist at the 1963 U.S. Women’s Amateur and was an alternate for the 1964 Curtis Cup team. In 1997, she was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
Wadkins, 66, gives the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame its first set of brothers, as he joins Lanny, a member of the inaugural class, in the Hall. A four-time winner on the PGA Tour Champions, Wadkins’ career highlight came in 2006 when he finished a stroke clear of Jim Thorpe to win the Ford Senior Players Championship.
Born in Richmond, Wadkins and his brother dominated the Richmond junior golf scene. At one point, one of the brothers won the Richmond city junior title six years in a row. Bobby turned professional in 1973, competed in 715 PGA Tour events and racked up six runner-up finishes. He won on the European Tour and Japan Golf Tour before joining the PGA Tour Champions.
His best finish in a major, a tie for fourth, came at the 1987 U.S. Open. He also tied for seventh at the PGA Championship that year. In addition to his Senior Players victory, Wadkins had three other top-five finishes in senior majors.
Wadkins won the 1972 VSGA Amateur and collected three titles at the Virginia PGA Open.
Worsham, who died in 1990 two weeks after turning 73, was the first Virginian to win the U.S. Open. He defeated fellow Virginia Golf Hall of Famer Sam Snead in a playoff at St. Louis Country Club to claim the title. Worsham seemed to like the spotlight. That U.S. Open was the first to be televised locally. Six years later, he won the first golf tournament to broadcast nationally when he holed out for eagle from 104 yards out on 18 to defeat Chandler Harper, another Virginia Golf Hall of Famer, at the Tam O’Shanter World Championship of Golf.
During his professional playing career, Worsham was also the head professional at both Oakmont Country Club outside of Pittsburgh and Coral Ridge Country Club in Florida. Worsham was a member of the 1947 Ryder Cup team, where he went 2-0. Worsham is also a member of the Middle Atlantic PGA, the PGA of America, and the Virginia Sports halls of fame.
Deliberations for the 2019 Virginia Hall of Fame class will begin later this year, when the site and date for the 2019 ceremony will also be announced. For those interested in nominating an individual, a form to do so is available on the website.