Judy Bell was born September 23, 1936, in Wichita, Kansas. Bell started playing golf at the age of 10 when she won the girls’ division of the Broadmoor Invitational. She was the only player in her division, but her amateur golf career picked up from there. At 14 Bell won the Wichita city title and at 15 became the Kansas state women’s amateur champion. In 1952 Bell competed in the U.S. Girls’ Junior competition in California but lost to Mickey Wright in the semifinals. Bell went on to play for the United States in the Curtis Cup in1960 and 1962. Bell set the record for the lowest score, a 67, in the U.S. Women’s Open in 1964. Bell captained the Curtis Cup team in 1986 and 1988 although she did not play. Bell won the Broadmoor Invitational title three times, the Florida East Coast Championships three times, the Palm Beach Invitation, the 1958 South Atlantic Championship, and the 1963 Trans-Mississippi title.
Despite her success on the field, Bell has also been very active off the field in the golf community. Bell joined the United States Golf Association (USGA) in 1961 as a part of the junior championship committee. She has also worked both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open as a rules official, and served on the women’s committee for 16 years. Bell went on to become the first female member of the executive committee. In 1996 Bell served as the 54th president of the USGA and the first woman president.
Bell has been inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (1996), the Colorado Golf Association Hall of Fame (1976), Kansas Golf Association Hall of Fame (1991), Kansas Sports Hall of Fame (2001), and World Golf Hall of Fame (2001).
Entry: Bell, Judy
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: May 2012
Date Modified: April 2015
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