LPGA veteran player and Legends Tour co-founding member Jan Stephenson admits she is relieved to be earning entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame this June.
Stephenson will be inducted in a ceremony coinciding with the U.S. Open Championship in California at Pebble Beach Golf Links in mid-June along with the late Peggy Kirk Bell, Retief Goosen, Billy Payne and Dennis Walters.
“I got passed over a few times and I was starting to think it was never going to happen,” said Stephenson, a Sydney, Australia native and current resident of Tampa, Fla. “But I’m really excited and I think I will appreciate this and truly savor it more now than if I had gotten it five to 10 years ago.”
Stephenson was an accomplished amateur in Australia, winning eight titles before turning pro and launching her LPGA career in 1974 -- earning top rookie honors that season. She went on to record 32 professional wins worldwide, including 16 LPGA Tour titles, with three major championships at the 1981 du Maurier Classic, the 1982 LPGA Championship and the 1983 U.S. Women’s Open.
She helped found the Women’s Senior Golf Tour in 2000, which became The Legends Tour, where she has won six tournaments and posted 23 top-10 finishes. She has also played eight times on the World Team in The Legends Tour’s Handa Cup competition.
Stephenson became eligible for World Golf Hall of Fame induction when a change to qualifying criteria more broadly considered nominees’ worldwide wins, impact and merits during respective eras.
“I was ahead of my time because I won a lot overseas, but for many years, those international wins weren’t recognized, which made it tough,” she noted. “It’s nice to finally get in on the merit side once they changed the rules.”
The Australian bought a golf course two years ago in Palm Harbor, Fla., and she now owns and operates Jan Stephenson’s Tarpon Woods. She offers special programs and instruction for disabled military veterans and first responders, as well as for blind golfers at her course. Last October, she hosted 50 blind golfers from ages 14-80 for National Blind Golf Day.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding,” said Stephenson, who has also been involved in golf course design.
A member of The Legends Tour’s Hall of Fame since 2013, Stephenson’s interests are diverse. She has a wine brand and owns a rum distillery. An image influencer on the LPGA in the 1980s when she embraced sex appeal to attract interest in the women’s tour, the Australian has never been shy to try new things and take new steps – including her 2011 appearance as a contestant in Australia’s “Dancing With The Stars” television show.
“I’ve had like three careers and three lives,” said Stephenson, who was honored with the Order of Australia Medal in 2018 for her contributions to the game of golf.
Stephenson will make a public appearance at the Seattle Golf Show Feb. 16-17, at CenturyLink Field Event Center. She will discuss her Hall of Fame induction, as well as her return to the Pacific Northwest to compete in the Suquamish Clearwater Legends Cup presented by The Boeing Company. That Seattle-area event is set for June 5-8, at White Horse Golf Club in Kingston, Wash., one day before her Hall of Fame induction dinner in Pebble Beach.
While Stephenson currently spends a lot of time orchestrating and playing in charity events, she jumps at the chance to compete in Legends Tour events each season and is looking forward to the Legends Tour’s Washington tournament.
“There’s still nothing like competition,” she said. “Sometimes I just can’t wait to play.”
For more information about The Legends Tour, visit www.thelegendstour.com.
About The Legends Tour
The Legends Tour is the official senior tour of the LPGA, providing competitive opportunities for female golfers, professional and eligible amateurs, age 45 and over. The tour was founded in 2000 by 25 veteran LPGA Tour professionals to showcase the talents of some of the greatest women’s golfers of all time. The Legends Tour now has more than 120 members, including 14 LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame members. Legends Tour members have over 750 combined LPGA Tour victories, including 84 major championships. In its 18 seasons, The Legends Tour has awarded more than $17 million in prize money and helped raise nearly $24 million for charity. The Legends Tour has hosted nearly 100 charity golf events and professional tournaments nationwide in multiple states and overseas in Japan and Australia. For additional information on The Legends Tour, log on to www.thelegendstour.com.