Athletic Hall of Fame

Shirley G. Spork

Shirley G. Spork

Sport(s): Golf

Graduating Class: 1949

Induction Class: 1981

Shirley Spork, a 1949 graduate of then Michigan State Normal College, went on to become a founding member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the LPGA National Golf School. She was a part-time Tour player in the 50s, 60s and 70s, participating in U.S. Opens, LPGA Championships and the Tam O'Shanter All American Open. Despite graduating 23 years before Title IX created gender equity in sports in 1972, Spork has still been able to give back to EMU Athletics in support of the women's golf team. An endowment to the program is named in her honor to supplement the operational budget and further expand golf opportunities for women. Spork, the first female inducted into the E-Club Hall of Fame in 1981, began her golf career early in life. She started playing with one club, a putter, at age 10 when she lived near Bonnie Brook Golf Course in Detroit, Mich. Throughout high school, Spork would participate in the annual City Championship at Palmer Park Municipal, which was only a nine-hole event. While attending MSNC, Spork won the Women's District Match Play Championship three times in four years. In 1947, she was the winner of the first-ever National Collegiate Championship held for women's athletics, plus she was the victor of the 1949 Michigan Amateur. After graduation, Spork became a teacher in the Detroit public schools, but realized she would much rather be playing golf. She turned professional in 1950 and played the tour but along the way, realized she still was a teacher and in 1959 along with Marilynn Smith, Betty Hicks and Barbara Rotvig, she founded the LPGA's Teaching and Club Professional Division. Spork was the first LPGA professional to conduct golf clinics in foreign countries and was a two-time LPGA Teacher of the Year (1959, 1984). She was the chairperson of the LPGA T&CP Division from 1960-66, and received the Meritorious Service Award in 1989 and the Byron Nelson Award in 1994.

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