April 24, 2012
Marietta, Ga. – Former Georgia Tech golfing great Albert J. “Duck” Swann, who won the 1948 SEC championship and captained the 1949 SEC champion Yellow Jacket team, has been elected to the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame along with three others, the Georgia State Golf Association announced Monday.
Swann, from Macon, Ga., a lifelong amateur who found success on the course as a junior and collegiate golfer, and later as a senior competitor, is being inducted posthumously and joins Laura Coble of Augusta, one of Georgia’s most accomplished competitive golfers with numerous state, regional and national titles, John B. “Sonny” Ellis of Atlanta, a popular amateur golfer who combined a successful playing career with years of service to the game; and Lowell Fritz of Dalton, a beloved instructor of the game who has influenced the careers of countless junior golfers during a long tenure at Dalton Golf and Country Club, in this year’s class.
The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Ceremony will take place on Saturday, January 19, 2013, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek.
The Atlanta Athletic Club holds a long and storied place in the history of golf in the state of Georgia, as the home club of the greatest amateur golfer of them all, Bobby Jones, along with no less than 13 other members of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. The club hosted its third PGA Championship in 2011, and in 2014 will host the U.S. Amateur, its sixth USGA national championship.
Swann’s golf career spanned from his college days at Georgia Tech to an international senior championship in his later years. He was a dedicated servant of the game and of charitable causes in his community.
A Maconite throughout his life, Swann played on the Lanier High golf team and, at 16 years of age, won the 1941 Macon City Championship. In 1942, Duck won several Georgia Interscholastic titles. After serving as an Air Force pilot in World War II, Duck won the Southeastern Conference Championship in 1948 and was medalist in the Southern Intercollegiate Tournament. He served as captain of the Yellow Jackets’ 1949 SEC title team.
After two years of flying during the Korean conflict, Duck settled into several businesses in the Macon area. In 1958 he was elected to Georgia Tech’s “All Time” golf team and into the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame in 1964.
Swann’s golf career blossomed again upon the time he turned senior amateur age of 55 in 1980. In 1983, Duck had his most significant victory at Walton Heath in England, as he became the first American to capture the British Senior Open Amateur Championship. Also during the same year, he won the Georgia Seniors title and qualified for the match play portion of the USGA Senior Amateur Championship.
The following year, he won the Legendary Senior Amateur in Birmingham, and was runner-up at the American and Georgia seniors. In 1987, he won the Western Seniors.
Mr. Swann was a member of golf organizations and charities throughout his life, including the American Senior Golf Association, state Walter Hagen Cancer Tournament committee, National Kidney Foundation Tournament, Middle Georgia Golf Championship board and the Children’s Hospital Celebrity Golf Tournament. He was a past president of Idle Hour Club where his quick wit and love of golf made him an all-time favorite.
Biographical information on the other inductees:
Laura Coble, Augusta
Laura Coble of Augusta is one of the most accomplished competitors in the annals of Georgia golf history – male or female. She has won titles on the state and national levels, has given back to the game by serving on several state boards and committees, and has conducted herself at all times with the grace and class of a champion.
Since 1991 and through 2011, her name has been etched at the top of championship trophies no less than 19 times in statewide competitions. On 15 additional occasions, she has recorded top five finishes.
Among Laura’s most noteworthy victories are the 2005 and 2007 Georgia Women’s Amateur titles and three USGA State Team championships (2005-2009-2011), the only golfer in the country to play on three winning state teams. She has also earned 13 GSGA Women’s Player of the Year awards and was chosen the Tommy Barnes Award winner, as the state’s overall Player of the Year, in 2000, 2005 and 2009.
She has been her most dominant in the Georgia Women’s Match Play Championship, winning it eight times from 1999 to 2010. That same match-play skill helped her advance to the final match of the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship in Ocala, Fla., where she lost out to former college teammate Martha Leach.
Laura also qualified for the 2001 U.S. Women’s Open, won the 2004 Georgia Women’s Open as well as the 2005 Women’s Southern Amateur. She has represented Georgia 17 times in the Georgia-Florida Women’s Team Matches.
Laura is currently a member of the GSGA Board of Directors and the Hall of Fame, Site, Women’s Tournament and Strategic Planning committees. She previously served on the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Authority Board of Directors.
The former Laura Mays played college golf at the University of Georgia. She is married to Rusty Coble and they have one daughter, Katherine. The Cobles are members of Augusta Country Club.
John B. “Sonny” Ellis, Atlanta
Sonny Ellis is a long-time successful businessman in Atlanta who combined a fine acumen for playing the game of golf with a desire to concurrently serve the game he loved. He was widely admired by friends like Hall of Fame members Dan Yates Jr., Arnold Blum, Jack and Billy Key and many others for his play, his service and his “sunny” attitude.
A native of Columbus, he graduated from Columbus High and won the Columbus Junior Championship and Georgia Interscholastic Championship before taking his golf talents to LSU. Though his college career was interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy, he played on teams that included Gardner Dickinson and Jay Hebert and won several events, including the prestigious 1946 Southern Intercollegiate and 1947 Colonial in Memphis.
Sonny continued to play amateur golf as he began to establish himself in the business world, competing against some of the great amateurs of the time. He was part of the Southern States Four-Ball title of the Southern Amateur in 1957 and 1958, teaming with the likes of Cobby Ware, Charles Harrison, Tommy Barnes and Arnold Blum.
His most significant accomplishment occurred in 1961, when he was medalist and advanced to the finals of the Southern Amateur at Holston Hills in Knoxville, only to run into the great Billy Joe Patton. He was also the qualifying medalist in the 1954 Georgia Amateur at The Savannah Golf Club.
He was runner-up in the 1955 Atlanta Amateur and won six club championship titles at Capital City, Cherokee and Peachtree in Atlanta during the 1950s.
Ellis served on the Board of Directors of the Southern Golf Association from 1957-1965 and was the eighth president of the Georgia State Golf Association in 1962 and 1963. Mr. Ellis lives in Atlanta near Capital City Club, where he has been a member since 1954.
Lowell Fritz, Dalton
Lowell Fritz’s effect on the game of golf in Georgia comes in the form of his influence as a golf teacher and on the lives of the young people he taught from the Dalton area, where he has spent the last 46 years of his life.
The number of people who have taken lessons and learned from Lowell over the years is a lengthy one, and includes such names as Blake Adams, Mike Clark III, the Cole brothers, Hall Fowler, Bill McDonald, David Noll and Steve White, just to name a few. He has taught over 90 players from the Dalton area who have either earned college scholarships or have become professional golfers.
One of his colleagues in the northwest Georgia area, Deck Cheatham of The Farm, wrote about Mr. Fritz, “The consideration that you give him (for the Hall of Fame) cannot be based on any personal achievement; rather, you must consider the difference he has made in the lives of those who have learned the game under his tutelage. Lowell’s genius and achievement is the quintessential man behind the player. His legacy will lead to future Hall of Famers and it is only fitting that he be chosen for this honor.”
Lowell Fritz was born in Sandusky, Ohio, but was a graduate of Avondale (Ga.) High School. After three years in the Army, he became an assistant professional at The Standard Club in Atlanta for three years before going to Dalton in 1966 to work as an assistant to Jim Stamps. He became head professional in 1967 and is now the club’s Director of Golf.
He has earned the Georgia PGA’s Junior Golf Leader award in 1989 and 1996, the Teacher of the Year award in 1991 and the prestigious President’s Award in 2004.
About his own teaching satisfaction, Mr. Fritz has said this: “From the three-week summer clinic to individual lessons with boys and girls, my greatest satisfaction is seeing these kids with swings that last a lifetime.”
The Class of 2013 was selected by the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Committee, based on the recommendation of the GGHOF Nominating Committee. These four inductees will bring the total number of Georgia Golf Hall of Fame members to 94.
The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, which came under the management of the Georgia State Golf Association in 2010, is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Georgia’s golf traditions, heritage, achievements and excellence. For more information on the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, please visit www.gghof.com.
Founded in 1916, the Georgia State Golf Association (GSGA) received its official charter on June 24, 1924. Since that date, the GSGA has grown to one of the largest state amateur golf associations in the country, with over 345 member clubs and 75,000 individual members. With a mission to promote and preserve amateur golf in the state of Georgia, GSGA offers a computerized handicapping service, course rating and measuring, and annually conducts a full schedule of statewide competitions for men and women of all age groups. In addition to managing the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, other services include a summer-long junior sectional program, award-winning Golf Georgia magazine, membership recognition and rewards programs and a charitable foundation administering two college scholarship programs.