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NKY’s Margaret Jones, 78, named to Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame for lifetime of success in women’s golf

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

Five Kentuckians will be inducted into the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame as its 2021 class, including NKY’s Margaret Jones, a prominent figure in women’s golf throughout her lifetime.

Other inductees are Bobby Baldwin, PGA, Walter Cisco, Marty Donlon, and Jimmy Kirchdorfer have been selected for induction and will officially become members of the most prestigious club in Kentucky golf this autumn.

Margaret Jones and her family at Fort Mitchell County Club in 1953. (Photo provided)

Bobby Baldwin, PGA is approaching a half-century as a PGA Professional after being elected to Membership in 1974. He began working at Winchester Country Club one year later and has served as the Head Golf Professional or Director of Golf ever since. He was the Kentucky PGA Section’s Golf Professional of the Year Award in 2011 thanks to his many contributions to the state’s golfers, especially its youth through the high number of lessons he has provided for children. His mentorship has been long regarded as one of his strongest traits, which is also seen in the paths his employees have taken. Many PGA Professionals and superintendents that have worked with Baldwin have become award-winning workers in their respective fields both in and outside of Kentucky.

“Needless to say, this is an incredible honor,” Baldwin said. “It’s so humbling. To think that those among you think that you’re deserving of this is entirely gratifying and means more than I could ever express. It will be an honor to be a part of this ceremony and experience it. There are a lot of amazing people on that wall in Golf House Kentucky and I really can’t believe I’ll be on it. All you can say is ‘wow.’”

Walter Cisco will be inducted posthumously after living from 1918-1972. He won the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Amateur in 1940 at Ashland Country Club and once more in 1948 at Big Spring Country Club. In 1949, he reached the championship match of the Western Amateur at Bellerive Country Club just outside of St. Louis. He was edged out in that title match by Frank Stranahan, who was the top-ranked amateur in the world at the time of their match. When not playing himself, Cisco instilled a passion for the game in children at Audubon Country Club at a time when junior golf was not promoted nearly as much as it is today. Many of the club’s members at the time credited Cisco for being the reason why their children formed an attachment with the game.
“He had tremendous talents as a golfer,” Steve Cisco, Walter’s son stated. “He was just as successful on the national level as he was on the local level, so I’m glad he’s getting this recognition. He certainly deserves it.”

Marty Donlon coached golfers of St. Xavier High School from 1963-2008 while also working as a teacher throughout those 55 years. The Tigers’ Boys Golf team won the KHSAA State Championship fourteen times under his leadership while players such as Jesse Mudd, Matt Savage, Patrick Vadden, PGA, and Mike Zimmerer won the KHSAA Individual Championship with Donlon coaching them. Donlon also was the first coach Justin Thomas had in his four years at St. Xavier. In 2009, the year after Donlon’s retirement, Thomas also won the KHSAA Individual Championship. The Courier Journal nicknamed Donlon “Mr. High School Golf” in an article commemorating his retirement in 2008. He has been enshrined in several different Hall of Fames, which includes the Kentucky Golf Coaches Association (KGCA), Bellarmine University and St. Xavier.

“I’ve been very lucky throughout my life,” Donlon described. “I’ve loved coaching, but I enjoyed teaching in the classroom just as much as coaching young athletes. It was an honor just to have the opportunity to serve as a leader, but this is the cherry on top. I’m fortunate to be in several other Hall of Fames, but I think this one is the biggest.”

Jimmy Kirchdorfer has spent many years as a Board Member or Ambassador for prominent golf organizations including First Tee of Louisville, the Barbasol Championship, Western Golf Association, Kentucky Golf Foundation, Justin Thomas Foundation, and Golf Course Builders Association of America Foundation. In 2019, he was instrumental in Kentucky becoming the second state to host the Youth on Course Caddie Program. In its first year, more than $5,000 in scholarship funds were awarded to participants of the program with that number set to continue growing in the years to come. Kirchdorfer, as CEO of ISCO Industries, has also provided tremendous support for the Youth on Course Pro-Am at Valhalla Golf Club every August. In 2020 and 2021, even with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, new records in funding for Youth on Course have been achieved thanks to Kirchdorfer’s commitment to continually introducing Kentucky’s youth to golf.

“Golf has had an enormous impact on the path of my life,” Kirchdorfer exclaimed. “To be inducted into the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame is a huge honor. I’ll never forget receiving the call from Phil Armbruster when he informed me of this news. There have been so many amazing people that have gone before me and to be recognized beside them is truly an honor.”

Margaret Jones, champion golfer (Photo provided)

Margaret Jones has been a prominent fixture in women’s golf throughout her life as a player, coach and administrator. She is a four-time champion of the Women’s Kentucky Amateur and a three-time winner of the Greater Cincinnati Women’s Amateur. At the end of the 1971 season, Jones held the course record at seven courses in five different states, including local facilities Fort Mitchell Country Club and Big Elm Country Club. She competed in multiple USGA championships throughout her career, including the U.S. Women’s Open. In 1970, she began coaching Dixie Heights High School’s Boys Golf team and then led Stetson University’s Women’s Golf team starting in 1991. Throughout this time, she served on the Board of Directors for both the Women’s Western Golf Association and the Women’s Western Golf Foundation. Via those roles, Jones has worked as a rules official and on the tournament committees of numerous local, regional and national competitions ever since.

“I’m extremely honored,” Jones relayed. “It’s such a unique experience because this is happening in the twilight of my life at 78 years old. It makes me think about how lucky I’ve been to be introduced to the game of golf and not only participate as a competitor but give back to it as well. I feel like this is all for my parents though. They instilled this in me, and they may not be here to see this, but I always wanted to make them proud.”

Margaret Jones, celebrating a lifetime of success at golf. (Photo provided)

Jones, 78, grew up in Fort Mitchell, a tradition-rich club and the course out of which she played while dominating golf locally and statewide. She and her family first joined the club in 1947. She made a name for herself nationally in the 1950s and ’60s.

She now lives in Orlando, FL., but still keeps close ties to NKY.

Her golf-oriented family included father, Charles, a five-handicap play and a Fort Mitchell Country Club champion. Mom Loretta was active in Cinci and NKY gold and served as president of the NKWGA in 1960-61. Older brother, the late Chuck Jones, played on the Wake Forest golf team and later won the Birmingham, Ala., city championship.

In 1962, at the age of 19, Margaret was the youngest Met champion in its history and the first from NKY. She studied at Stetson University, majoring in education and playing on the men’s team because the school did not yet have a women’s team.

She later became a counselor at Dixie Heights High School where she coached the boys golf team. After moving to Florida, she was a counselor at Seminole High School in Sanford. She also returned to her alma mater, coaching the women’s golf team and serving as Stetson’s first academic counselor to student-athletes.

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