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Mary Bea Porter-King

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Porter-King more than a rules official

by Merynn Ito

Who’d have thought Mary Bea Porter-King was a four-sport athlete at Arizona State University. Or that she has officiated at the Masters, Walker Cup, NCAA Championships, USGA Junior Championships, and U.S. Women’s and Men’s Opens. And did you know there was even an award created in her name? These are a few of the many things that most people don’t know about Porter-King. Most juniors in Hawaii know her as a rules official. Wearing a stern expression and carrying a radio and rules book, juniors most often see her riding around the course in a golf cart. Parents know her as the president and co-founder of the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association, HSJGA. But Porter-King’s life is defined by so much more than this.

She started playing golf at the age of seven, and played four sports while attending Arizona State University: golf, basketball, volleyball and softball. She earned All-America honors and was named Outstanding College Athlete of the Year before joining the LPGA in 1973. In November 2001 she was inducted into Arizona State’s Hall of Fame. She also did television commentary for 12 years with NBC and ESPN.

            Porter-King retired from her 15-year career on the LPGA in 1988 and moved to Hawaii in 1989. Wanting to give back to the golf community, she got involved with Kauai’s junior golf program and eventually co-founded HSJGA.  Porter-King organizes golf and rules clinics, college workshops and mental training classes for the 700-plus juniors belonging to the statewide program. She wanted to give juniors here in the Islands the same opportunities available to juniors on the mainland and has since opened the door to many more national tournament opportunities for Hawaii’s juniors. For her outstanding efforts, she was awarded the 2000 Budget Service Award. This award, sponsored by Budget Rent a Car, recognizes an LPGA member’s services to youth through golf, and donates $5,000 to youth charity.

            But serving as president of HSJGA isn’t the only leadership role Porter-King holds. She currently serves on the USGA Executive Committee—a 16-member committee that oversees the entire United States Golf Association.

            Porter-King’s most recent appointment was captaining the U.S. team in the inaugural Copa de Las Americas. This international amateur golf event was held in Dorado, Puerto Rico on June 25 to 28, and included men and women’s two-member teams from the United States and 32 other countries. The U.S. team--both men and women—placed second.

Although Porter-King’s life is overflowing with golf accomplishments, one feat unrelated to golf may very well be the most meaningful to her. In 1988 while playing in an LPGA event, she noticed a young boy floating unconscious in the pool of a house bordering the golf course. She climbed the fence and administered CPR, saving the boy’s life. In honor of her heroic deed, the Metropolitan Golf Writer’s Association created the Mary Bea Porter Humanitarian Award. This annual award honors a humanitarian or heroic act that enhances human life.

            Without a doubt, Mary Bea Porter-King is much more than just a rules official. There’s a lighter side to her that many people don’t see when she’s out on the golf course. So the next time you see her around, ask her about doing the Y-M-C-A backwards at a minor league baseball game, or the time she threatened a junior bodily harm when he tried to steal her pickle off her plate.

            Porter-King is married to Charlie King, a fifth-generation islander, and they have two children—Joseph and Sherry.

 

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