NCGA Hall of Fame
The third NCGA Hall of Fame class is a unique triumvirate of golfers who left an indelible impact on several generations of fans.
Johnny Miller, Roger Maltbie and Kay Cockerill all cut their teeth through amateur golf in Northern California before ascending to the professional ranks. And after they each earned national acclaim for their play, they became household names with their distinct and ongoing broadcast careers.
Miller, Maltbie and Cockerill were inducted into the NCGA Hall of Fame on Tuesday night at the 54th Annual California Golf Writers and Broadcasters Association Awards Banquet, hosted at Spanish Bay.
The NCGA’s former director of rules and competitions Roger Val was also presented the 2012 NCGA Distinguished Service Award honors for his 30 years of dedicated work in Northern California’s golf community.
The California Golf Writers and Broadcasters Association honored Alan Shipnuck (Media Achievement Award), Glen Albaugh (Golden State Award), Steve Desimone (Jack Lemmon “Ambassador of Golf Award) and Pat Hurst (California Golf Hall of Fame).
The night not only honored Northern California’s golf giants, but gave the NCGA Hall of Famers a chance to reflect on the game they love so much.
The 25-time PGA Tour winner shot a record 63 in the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open to roar back from six strokes down and capture his first major, and the following three years he enjoyed a run that few in the game have ever touched. From 1974-76, Miller won 14 times, including the 1976 British Open. He was the 1974 Player of the Year and money leader, notching eight victories, a feat that wouldn’t be topped until Tiger Woods won nine times in 2000.
“My trouble was by the time the U.S. Open was over, I was ready to go fishing,” admitted Miller.
But that run was truly remarkable, as Maltbie can attest. The first two weeks Maltbie played on the PGA Tour during his rookie year, he was proud to boast that he made the cut both times. Miller won both those tournaments in 1975, beating Maltbie by a combined 45 strokes.
“What I think is good, and what is, are two different things,” Maltbie remembers thinking after watching Miller in his prime.
Miller’s career began in San Francisco, where he was a junior Olympic Club member. He won the San Francisco City Junior Title at age 16 in 1963, the U.S. Amateur in 1964 and the California State Amateur in 1968. The BYU All-American’s playing career fittingly came full circle and back to Northern California when he won for the final time on the PGA Tour at the 1994 Pebble Beach Pro-Am at the age of 46, stepping out of the announcers booth to beat Tom Watson by a stroke.
To golf’s younger generations, Miller is known as the game’s leading television analyst. Miller joined NBC Sports in 1990, and watching a U.S. Open or Ryder Cup without his tremendous insight and refreshing candor just wouldn’t feel the same.
“I’ve tried to be a lot softer the last three years,” admitted Miller, before conceding, “but for a while there, I guess I was looking for a fight.
“I do say stuff that I had no idea I was going to say. I don’t play it safe.”
That style also led to Miller famously predicting that Tiger Woods would run away with the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in historic fashion – just four holes into the championship.
“I think he’s going to win, and I think he’s going to win by a record margin,” said Miller about Woods, who would go on to win by a record 15 shots.
Miller is still influencing Northern California golf as a course designer. He has worked on more than 30 courses, including his acclaimed renovation of Silverado in Napa. Johnny and his wife Linda have six children and 21 grandchildren. Miller was also inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 and was honored by the Northern California PGA in 2011 at its annual Langley, A Tribute to Legends event.
“The bond you get from playing golf with anyone is pretty special,” Miller said.
Maltbie had a stellar golf career growing up in Northern California before breaking out on the PGA Tour, winning back-to-back tournaments in 1975 to claim Rookie of the Year honors. Maltbie went on to win five times on the PGA Tour, including the inaugural Memorial, where he memorably survived a four-hole playoff. Maltbie won twice on Tour in 1985 to finish eighth on the money list, and nearly captured that elusive major in 1987, tying for fourth at the Masters. Maltbie finished with 56 career top 10s on the PGA Tour.
“It’s wonderful we get recognized on a night like this, but it gives us a public forum to thank everyone who helped us,” Maltbie said.
Maltbie was born in Modesto and grew up in San Jose, where he learned the game at San Jose Country Club from pro Eddie Duino. Maltbie went to James Lick High School, where he was teammates with fellow PGA Tour pro Forrest Fezzler, and played his collegiate golf at San Jose City College and San Jose State.
“Johnny learned by beating all these guys,” Maltbie said. “I learned by getting beaten. Forrest Fezzler – I couldn’t beat the guy. He was two years older than me, and his scoring average at James Lick High School was 68.6. But it made me work hard.”
Maltbie soon began winning, claiming the San Jose Country Club championships at ages 18 and 19 before going after bigger fish, winning the 1972 NCGA Amateur, the 1973 Northern California Open and the 1974 California State Open.
Maltbie joined the NBC Sports broadcasting team in 1992, and he and fellow inductee Johnny Miller are known for their lively and engaging exchanges. Maltbie is NBC’s lead on-course reporter, and you can always find him following the leaders.
Maltbie has perhaps the most memorable call of the 2000 U.S. Open, announcing when Woods gouged a 7-iron out of the rough from more than 200 yards out on the par-5 sixth hole, that “This is not a fair fight.”
Maltbie and his wife Donna have two sons, and reside in Los Gatos. He is member of the NCGA Foundation’s Honorary Board and has done a number of public service announcements for the Foundation.
“I am so proud to be a part of Youth on Course,” Maltbie.
Desimone, the Cal men’s golf coach, shared those feelings for Youth on Course.
“I want to salute the NCGA, NCGA Foundation and especially Youth on Course,” said Desimone, whose No. 1 Cal men’s golf team volunteers at Richmond CC. “We are touching kids and we are changing lives. If you touch one life, you make a better person.
“We have the best sport in the world, so let’s share it with the people who need it.”
The Los Gatos native didn’t start taking lessons until she was 14 from De Laveaga’s Rick Walker in Santa Cruz. But by the time she was 22, Cockerill had walked-on UCLA, won six individual collegiate titles, been selected to a pair of All-American and Academic All-American teams, and won back-to-back U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships.
Cockerill won her first U.S. Amateur at Pasatiempo in 1986, taking a 6-up lead after 18 holes in the championship match before running away to a 9-and-7 victory. As if that showing wasn’t convincing enough, Cockerill defended her title at the 1987 U.S. Amateur.
“My only goal was to make match play,” said Cockerill about the 1986 U.S. Amateur. “Winning the Women’s Am at Pasatiempo is my finest moment in golf. I couldn’t wait to get up every morning and play golf.”
While Cockerill enrolled at UCLA relatively unknown, she left an indelible mark, becoming the first female golfer to be inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame.
After graduation, Cockerill turned professional, where she beat Meg Mallon to win the Future Tour’s 1988 Marsh Landing Classic. A 10-year LPGA Tour veteran, Cockerill joined the Golf Channel’s broadcast team at its inception in 1995. She has been the voice for women’s golf ever since, working as an on-course reporter for the network’s PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and Web.com coverage.
“The Web.com Tour is really live and die by the moment,” Cockerill said. “It’s like what the PGA Tour used to be like.”
The Olympic Club member has always been an outstanding leader in her community, earning the LPGA’s Budget Service Award in 1992, and the Jack Lemmon Ambassador of Golf Award in 2008. Cockerill also is a member of the Board of The First Tee of San Francisco, and lives in the city with her husband Danny Dann. The NCGA is proud to acknowledge this great ambassador of the game who gives back often and with great enthusiasm.
“We’re deeply involved in this game, we love it and we’re happy to be here,” Cockerill said.
“It is so special to be included in this elite group of past honorees,” Val said. “This is an incredible game, I’ve had an incredible career, and I am so honored for this game tonight.”
Val retired at the end of 2010 as the NCGA’s director of rules and competitions.
During Roger’s tenure, the tournament schedule dramatically expanded to become the largest program in the country with offerings encompassing scratch, net, associate club, eClub, women, junior and senior golfers. In particular, Roger’s sensitivity and passion for the net golfer ensured that the venues and administration of their events were to the same standards as the California State Amateur. Roger’s ability to adapt and excel administratively allowed him to succeed under seven different NCGA executive directors.
Val attended San Jose State and received a degree in Parks and Recreation Administration. His first job was with the City of San Mateo as a director at Beresford Recreation Center before going on to a career with the city of Cupertino and then Santa Clara as the its first director of the Community Center in Central Park.
The avid San Francisco 49er and Giants fan was the tournament director of the Nabisco Championship in 1988 (the forerunner of today’s Tour Championship) and has been a rules official for eight U.S. Amateurs and the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and the President’s Cup at Harding Park
In 2001 Roger received the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Distinguished Service Award for the support of high school golf. In 2011, the NCGA Four-Ball Championship’s trophy was named after Roger.
The California native is a valued resource for dozens of college coaches, hundreds of club professionals and other industry personnel. He is a leader by example and possesses a meticulous dedication to his work; his experience and affable personality have made him an icon in California golf circles.