By Chris Lang
MIDLOTHIAN — The Virginia Golf Hall of Fame will induct its fourth class on May 9, 2019 at Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville. The five-member 2019 class will be the second largest in the Hall’s four years of existence, only behind the six-member Inaugural Class.
The members of the 2019 class are Bobby Cruickshank, Harry Easterly, Mary-Patton Janssen, Tom McKnight and Bill Millsaps.
In 2018, Dr. Lew Blakey, Robbye Unger, Bobby Wadkins and Lew Worsham were inducted at Hermitage Country Club. In 2017, Donna Andrews, Keith Decker, Wallace McDowell and J.C. Snead joined the Hall at The Country Club of Virginia. The Inaugural Class, inducted in 2016 at The Omni Homestead Resort, featured Vinny Giles, Chandler Harper, Clyde Luther, Sam Snead, Curtis Strange and Lanny Wadkins.
Cruickshank, who died in 1975 at age 80, was a six-time State Open of Virginia champion and a 17-time winner on the PGA Tour. Born in Grantown-on-Spey in northern Scotland, Cruickshank served in the British Army in World War I. He was captured in action by the Germans and was a prisoner of war, but he later successfully escaped. After the war, he moved to Edinburgh, where he became a member of Turnhouse Golf Club.
Cruickshank turned professional in 1921 and moved to the United States. He rose to prominence thanks to semifinal appearances in the PGA Championship in 1922 and 1923 (he lost to Gene Sarazen both times) and runner-up finishes in the 1923 and 1932 U.S. Opens.
Cruickshank was the PGA Tour’s leading money winner in 1927, a year in which he won the Los Angeles and Texas Opens. He had 16 top-10 finishes in major championships in his career.
Cruickshank served as the head professional at The Country Club of Virginia in Richmond from 1932-48, and during that time, he went on a tear at the State Open of Virginia, winning five straight from 1933-37 and adding a sixth title in 1939.
Easterly, who died in 2005 at the age of 82, was a past president of both the Virginia State Golf Association and United States Golf Association. He also served as the USGA’s executive director.
Easterly, a World War II veteran, was accomplished as a player, finishing as runner-up at the VSGA Amateur in 1956. But he made his mark in golf as a tournament administrator, and later, as one of amateur golf’s key leaders.
Easterly helped The Country Club of Virginia secure two U.S. Amateur Championships (1955 and 1975). He was a member at not only CCV, but also at Augusta National, Pine Valley, St. Andrews and Ballybunion. He was a U.S. World Amateur team captain, a Walker Cup captain, and chairman of both the USGA Championship and USGA Rules of Golf committees.
Easterly, who graduated from St. Christopher’s School in Richmond and Virginia Military Institute, was also instrumental in the founding of Independence Golf Club in Midlothian.
From 1957-62, Janssen was Virginia’s most dominant female golfer. Born in Pennsylvania, Janssen moved to Charlottesville at age 15 and didn’t begin playing golf until she was 21. Beginning in 1957, Janssen won six straight VSGA Women’s Amateur Championships, the final victory coming in 1962 against fellow Virginia Golf Hall of Famer Robbye Unger. She died in 2011 at age 86.
Janssen won the Mid-Atlantic Amateur in 1953 and the Eastern Amateur and West Palm Beach Amateur in 1958. In 1956, Janssen played in the first All-American finals in the British Women’s Amateur and was a national championship finalist in Canada, France and Cuba.
In all, Janssen won 21 tournaments and finished second in another seven. She was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
A nine-time VSGA champion, McKnight won back-to-back VSGA Amateur Championships in 1984-85 and added another Amateur title in 1993. He is the last player to win both the VSGA Amateur and State Open of Virginia in the same year, doing so in 1985.
McKnight played at the University of Virginia from 1973-76 and played professionally on mini-tours and overseas from 1976-80. He regained his amateur status in 1983 and was a dominant force in VSGA championships. He also was on three winning VSGA Four-Ball Stroke Play Championship sides, won two VSGA Mid-Amateurs, three Eastern Amateurs, a Cardinal Amateur and the Terra Cotta Cup.
McKnight was the medalist at the 1988 U.S. Amateur in Hot Springs and was part of the 1995 Virginia team that won the first USGA State Team Championship. McKnight was also a finalist at the 1998 U.S. Amateur and a member of the 1998 World Amateur Team and 1999 U.S. Walker Cup team. He played in the 1999 Masters and tied for 44th.
McKnight regained his professional status in 2002 and after turning 50, he qualified for the Champions Tour in the fall of 2004. He won nearly $2 million in six years on the PGA’s senior circuit.
A past member of the VSGA Board of Directors, McKnight is now a teaching professional at Farmington Country Club.
One of the great voices in Virginia media and a longtime member of the VSGA Board of Directors, Millsaps is a retired executive editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and recipient of the 2011 Red Smith Award, the top sports journalism award in the nation as presented by the Associated Press Sports Editors to a person who has made major contributions to sports journalism.
Millsaps contributed much to coverage of golf in the Commonwealth, having covered 15 Masters, 13 U.S. Opens, two Open Championships, two U.S. Amateur Championships, one PGA Championship and one Ryder Cup.
A native of Daisy, Tenn., and an alumnus of the University of Tennessee, Millsaps began his career at the Knoxville Journal before joining the Times-Dispatch in September 1966. He was named associate sports editor in 1972 and executive sports editor in 1973.
In January of 1992, he became managing editor of the newspaper and was promoted to senior vice president and executive editor in January 1994. Four times during his 11-year tenure as executive editor, Millsaps’ leadership was recognized when the Times-Dispatch won the Virginia Press Association’s highest honor—the W.S. Copeland Award for public service and journalistic integrity.
A former president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and APSE, Millsaps’ work has also appeared in Sports Illustrated and the U.S. Golf Association Journal. Millsaps was a 2000 inductee of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
The virtual Virginia Golf Hall of Fame website can be found at VirginiaGolfHallofFame.com.
Chris Lang is the Editor of Virginia Golfer Magazine and Manager, Digital Media for the VSGA.