Betsy Rawls of Wilmington, Del., was presented the Digger Smith Award Wednesday, July 30 by the American Junior Golf Association at the event’s tournament banquet for her longstanding commitment to the McDonald’s Betsy Rawls Girls National Championship.
Each year the AJGA presents the Digger Smith Award to an individual whose service to junior golf goes above and beyond the call of duty. The award is named for AJGA Chairman of the Board J.R. “Digger” Smith, who has dedicated himself to the AJGA and junior golf for more than two decades. Smith was honored as the Golfweek “Father of the Year” in 1995.
Rawls and the LPGA McDonald’s Championship Committee first approached the AJGA with the idea of a junior girls national championship in 1989. Since that first year, the event has become one of the premiere junior girls tournaments in the nation, attracting the best young female golfers in theworld. Past winners of the event include Kellee Booth, Cristie Kerr, Grace Park and Beth Bauer.
Never one to settle for mediocrity, Rawls has taken complete responsibility for the event’s success. The LPGA Tour Hall of Famer is famous for doing anything and everything to ensure the tournament runs smoothly.
"She has always been extremely involved in the tournament, from pounding stakes and setting up tents to being the Senior Rules Official," said Beth Reuter, AJGA vice president of Player Services and tournament director for the Girls National Championship. “Betsy is a wonderful person and it has been my honor to work with her over the past several years. She is well deserving of this award.”
Her involvement with the AJGA has been more than just assisting with the tournament, as Rawls also served as the AJGA National Co-Chairman from 1995-96.
Rawls’ dedication to this event mirrors the passion with which she has given her time and energy to women’s golf for more than 50 years. Winner of 55 LPGA Tour events, including eight majors, Rawls was named to Golf Magazine’s “100 Heroes” during the 1988 Centennial of Golf in America celebration. Her major victories include four U.S. Women’s Open titles, two LPGA Championships and two Western Opens.
She was one of the six inaugural inductees into the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame when it was created in 1967, after having been inducted into the Hall of Fame of Women’s Golf in 1960.
Though Rawls did not take up golf until the age of 17, she went on to be one of the game’s most influential individuals, serving for six years as the LPGA’s tournament director, being named executive director for the McDonald’s Championship and, with her deep knowledge of the Rules of Golf, becoming the first woman to serve on the Rules Committee for the men’s U.S. Open.
Other honors include the 1995 Sprint Lifetime Achievement Award, the 1996 Bob Jones Award and recognition as one of the LPGA’s top 50 players and teachers during the Association’s 50th Anniversary in 2000.