Judy Bell has no trouble remembering her first round of golf in Colorado.
In the summer of 1947, at the age of 11, she joined her parents, as always, for the annual summer trip from their home in Wichita, Kansas, to Colorado Springs, where her mother took part in the prestigious Broadmoor Ladies Invitation amateur golf tournament. Judy got the chance to play that year in the tournament herself. Little did she realize back then how that week would set the course for the rest of her life.
After that initiation, Bell soon developed into an excellent golfer. She won at the state level in Kansas as well as winning the Broadmoor Ladies tournament three times en route to becoming a nationally prominent player. In addition, she took part in the summer circuit of top amateur events for many years.
In 1962, Bell moved to Colorado Springs where she began working her way up the power structure of the USGA, which governs the sport of golf in the United States.
Through the years, she served as captain of the U.S. team for the Curtis Cup international matches as well as becoming the first woman ever to work as a rules official at the Masters. Closer to home, she became the guiding force behind the Broadmoor Ladies, luring most of the nation’s top college players and making it an even more outstanding competition through the 70’s and 80’s.
In 1987, Bell became the first woman ever named to the USGA’s executive board. Later she was chosen as the first woman officer.
But the pinnacle for Bell came in 1995. First, she directed many operations of the U.S. Women’s Open, which came to the Broadmoor for the first time and smashed every imaginable record for attendance and financial success.
Then, in November of 1995, she was chosen by a nomination committee to take the position of USGA president, completing her rise to the top of the sprawling organization. But she also realized that duty, along with running her several businesses in Colorado Springs, would make it harder than ever to do what she enjoys most.
“I’ve still got to find time to get out on the course,” Bell said, “Otherwise, I’ll go nuts.”
I’ve still got to find time to get out on the course. Otherwise, I’ll go nuts.