The Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame has announced the 2018 Class of Hall of Fame inductees: Kelly (Varty) Burley, of Elk River, Minn., and, posthumously, Harold Bend, Art and Herb Cohrs, and Howie Johnson. Members of the group will be inducted into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame at various allied golf association events throughout the year.
The MGA-PGA Minnesota Hall of Fame was established in 1987 to recognize Minnesotans for their outstanding contributions to the game of golf. A selection committee meets annually to review nominations and select inductees.
Harold Bend came to Minnesota with his parents in 1878 from Staten Island, N.Y. As a young man, he turned to golf after forsaking rowing (boating), a fashionable activity of the era. After joining St. Paul’s Town & Country Club, Bend soon made his mark as one of Minnesota’s top amateur golfers by winning the second MGA Amateur Championship in 1902, establishing a new course record in the process. He would win the State Amateur again in 1904, and later that year after an arduous qualifying process, Bend would win five straight matches to claim the area’s first regional championship, the Trans-Mississippi. He would win the MGA’s second annual Senior Amateur Championship in 1923 (and repeat in 1924), becoming the first Minnesota golfer to win both the MGA Amateur and Senior Amateur championships.
Kelly (Varty) Burley
Kelly (Varty) Burley, 57, of Elk River, Minn., has been a part of the competitive women’s golf scene in Minnesota since the 1970’s. She claimed her first state title in 1976 at the Minnesota Junior Girls’ State Championship, and soon after established her Hall of Fame credentials with wins at the Minnesota Women’s Public Links and Minnesota Women’s State Amateur championships in 1979. She would win these two championships multiple times, including the Minnesota Women’s Public Links in 1980 and 1990-1991; and the Minnesota Women’s State Amateur in 1991-1993. She qualified for the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship three times advancing as far as the third round of match play in 1976 and 1977. In 1978 she lost in the second round, and a year later, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, advancing to the second round of match play.
Art and Herb Cohrs
Brothers Art and Herb Cohrs epitomized innovation and invention, uncommon yet indispensable attributes during the formative years of professional golf course maintenance. In 1937 the Cohrs built the first eight-tined greens aerification machine and christened it the “Greensaire.” Art, a machinist with the Minneapolis Moline company, would eventually obtain a patent for the machine, form a new company and market the aerification machine as the “Greens Air Special.” In 1960 he created the “Meter-Magic,” a topdressing machine; both the aerification and topdressing machines would be used by the industry for decades. Herb would serve as golf course superintendent for the Minneapolis Golf Club for 25 years, where brother Art would spend his retirement years cutting fairways.
Howie Johnson had a distinguished competitive career in amateur and professional circuits. He won twice on the PGA Tour, including beating future World Golf Hall of Famer Arnold Palmer just one week before Palmer would win his first professional major – the 1958 Masters Tournament. Johnson would survive the cut on the PGA Tour 389 times out of 403 attempts, a 96 percent success rate, while cracking the top-ten 41 times before his regular tour career came to a close in 1974. He would play on the PGA Champions Tour from 1980 to 1995, and more than double his career tour earnings.
About the MGA-PGA Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame
The MGA-PGA Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame was established in 1987 to recognize Minnesotans for their outstanding contributions to the game of golf. A committee of allied golf associations meets annually to determine nominations. The MGA-PGA Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame is housed at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids and is operated and supported by the Minnesota Golf Association and the Minnesota Section of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. For more information, contact MGA Executive Director, Tom Ryan at 952-345-3971 or Minnesota Section PGA COO, Jon Tollette at 763-754-0820.