(Golf) Hall Election the reward of a sterling golf career for Iverson

ESCANABA – A former area resident is being rewarded for everything she accomplished on the golf course.

Becky Iverson, who was born in Escanaba and raised in Gladstone, was informed earlier this week she’s being inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

She will join three other golfers duing ceremonies June 8 at Ferris State University in Big Rapids.

“Personally, it’s rewarding,” said Iverson, an LPGA winner who has served the past 3 1/2 years as director of golf at The Bridges Golf Course in Madison, Wis. “You think about all the times you’ve practiced and now you’re being rewarded for the hard work. Sarah Wold is the one who inducted me. She called me up last fall and told me she was going to nominate me.”

Her lone victory on the LPGA Tour took place at the 1995 Friendly’s Classic in Springfield, Mass., where she shot a personal-best 63, with nine birdies, in the second round.

“I had won six events on a smaller tour, but winning that tournament was real important,” said Iverson. “Not only because it was just my second year, but you don’t know about all the great things that are going to happen because of it.”

Also among Iverson’s highlights during her 14-year LPGA career were a tie for second in the 2000 Women’s British Open, being named to the U.S. Solheim Cup team the same year and a third-place finish in the Sprint Championship at Daytona, Fla. in 1999.

“I had a three-stroke lead with nine holes left at Daytona, then got beat by Annika Sorenstrom and Kari Webb,” said Iverson. “You have to remember, on the Tour you’re playing against the best golfers in the world. I played good and still couldn’t beat them. I had such a hard time getting that (elusive) second win. What happens is you get too pumped up. For example, sometimes your 7-iron will go 155 yards. You play so hard for three days, then you get a chance to win and it doesn’t work out. That’s when it gets a littie frustrating.

“Although, it’s a lot of fun, too. You get to play with the best golfers in the world, which makes you a better golfer. Thinking about being live on TV is kind of neat. Other people look at it as a lot to accomplish. It’s harder being from the U.P. You always feel like you’re behind because our seasons are so short.”

Like other athletes, pro golfers indeed go through their ups and downs.

Besides the joyous occasion of giving birth to her daughter Emma, 2003 was a tough year for Iverson.

Her father Ken died the same year. She also dislocated her left wrist and a cist was found on her left knee, requiring two surgeries and forcing her to miss the entire season.

“I tried to come back, and elevated my game for a while,” said Iverson, who retired from the Tour in 2010. “I probably should have retired in 2005. After my dad died, I didn’t really have as much motivation. My dad was the best caddy. He and my mom (Marie) knew my game. I had an absolute blast having him with me. I had somebody to talk to about the game.”

Becky started golfing at age 8 at the Gladstone Golf Club, the same time her father started.

“It was only nine holes back then,” said Becky. “It wasn’t so hard then, but it was hard after when they made it a real tough course.”

In 1985, she won the Michigan Junior Amateur tournament at Mount Pleasant with a 72, a whopping 20 strokes better than the field. She also captured the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship two years later.

“Those were two big wins,” she said. “Winning the junior tournament was huge because I was going to try to walk on the Michigan State (University) team. Then, I made the team in my freshman year, which was also big for me.”

While at MSU, Becky was an Academic All-American in 1987-88.

“College golf was so much fun,” said Becky, who didn’t have the opportunity to play high school golf. “I had great teammates and all the little things that made it fun. We had no high school golf at the time. I learned how to play at the Lake Bluff Golf & Country Club (now Terrace Bluff Golf & Country Club) with my grandmother (Geneva) and her friend. It was always fun, and the ladies let me play poker with them after golf.”

Becky says, however, her favorite win took place in July 1989 during the Upper Peninsula Women’s Championship at Highland Golf Club, four months before she turned pro.

“That was the hardest tournament for me to win,” said Becky. “I tried at least five times before I finally won it. Susie Fox (of Iron Mountain) was my main rival and I finally beat her that day.”

Becky has also recently been nominated for the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame and is now awaiting her election.

“That would mean even more to me,” she said. “I can’t think of a better place to grow up and be from. I don’t think any professional makes it without a support team. I think of my parents who sacrificed so much. I would have never made it on the Tour without their financial and emotional support. They sponsored me for three years before I got a corporate sponsor. I also think of my grandmother taking me to all the different events and sacrificing her time.”

Becky, also a pioneer turfgrass educator and multi-media journalist, became eligible for and started playing on the LPGA Legends Tour last year.

“I’ll probably just play in one or two tournaments this year because I just don’t have time with my job,” she said.