Ann Liguori on Golf: Metropolitan Golf Writers Association 70th National Awards Dinner

Mark Cannizzaro hugging Hank Gola
Mark Cannizzaro hugging Hank Gola
Courtesy Ann Liguori

A funny thing happened to me along the way in my journey as a sports broadcaster and journalist. I started focusing my media coverage on the sport of golf a few decades ago, and the sport has consumed my life — both professionally and personally. From covering Major championships, PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events, to playing in pro-ams and charity tournaments, to hosting my annual charity tournament, to planning all of our vacations around the sport, golf became my life.

When The Golf Channel first started in the late ’90s, and hired me to host Conversations with Ann Liguori, a show concept I pitched to programming executive Michael Whelan during a short phone call when he asked if I had a show idea for the new niche network that would debut in a matter of months, I had dabbled in golf but was so busy, it was difficult to pursue the game. But once the show started and I was getting invites to play in high-profile tournaments, I knew I had to buckle down, take lessons when I could and practice, practice, practice.

Jumping into the game when I was in my 20s started a love affair that has been most rewarding. As addictive as the sport is to play, it’s primarily the people in the game, that make playing and working in the golf industry, most fulfilling.

And again I was reminded of that at the recent Met Golf Writers Association (MGWA) National Awards Dinner which took place at Westchester Country Club in Rye, NY (The dinner is moved around to a different club in the NY Metropolitan area every year. Next year, the dinner will be held at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Westchester County).

Golf commentator Dottie Pepper
Golf commentator Dottie Pepper

Dottie Pepper, golf commentator, and a two-time Major Championship winner, was honored with the Gold Tee Award, presented to an individual whose career achievements exemplify the best spirit and traditions of the sport of golf. Pepper is the lead on-course reporter for CBS Sports and continues to shine with insightful analysis and witty repartee.

Mike Davis, former CEO of the United States Golf Association (USGA), was recognized with the Paul Dillon Distinguished Service Award. During the COVID pandemic in 2020, Davis encouraged golf course operators around the country to keep golf courses open for safe outdoor activity. And while many championships were cancelled that year, the USGA still held the U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Open. There were no spectators at those Majors that year, but both championships provided a boost to golf and to the TV audience during a difficult time.

Mark Cannizzaro, sport’s columnist for the NY Post, won the Lincoln Werden Golf Journalism Award. Cannizzaro covers golf and Jets football and continues to provide breaking news coverage and a fresh perspective in both sports. Cannizzaro recently wrote about the PGA Tour’s “too little, too late” response to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf events that have lured several top stars (Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka) with huge amounts of money, to play in their eight events this year.

Pete Kowalski, a public relations expert, who has worked for newspapers, the USGA, and now his own firm, received the Dave Anderson Spotlight Award, recognizing exemplary service in the golf community.

Pete Jordan, who works with Chris Simon at Knickerbocker Country Club in Tenafly, New Jersey, was honored for his heroics with the Mary Bea Porter Award, for donating a kidney to Simon in 2019! The two had been friends and co-workers for years. The fact that Jordan’s kidney was a match for Simon and the transplant was a success for both individuals, is an incredible story.

Golf commentator Ann Liguori holding her award
Golf commentator Ann Liguori holding her award

Hempstead Golf and Country Club, a A.W. Tillinghast design on Long Island, received the Club of the Year honors. And I’m honored to say that I was recognized with the Winnie Palmer Award, given to an individual who has consistently given their time, energy and enthusiasm to those less fortunate.

The fact that my peers honored me with this award, named after Winnie, the wife of Arnold Palmer, who devoted so much of her life to charity work, is truly special. And to be in the company of previous recipients who include Barbara Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Ernie Els and Nancy Lopez, is truly humbling.

Kelly Burke, who interned for me when I covered the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock for WFAN-NY, and who now is a commentator for college sports for various networks, came into town to present the award to me and to talk about the importance of mentorship. And my family flew in to be there as well which meant the world to me.

Dave Marr, radio and TV golf personality and East End fixture, was there to represent the Dave Marr Scholarship, named after his father who had a stellar pro golf career, was captain of the 1981 U.S. Ryder Cup Team and was the lead golf analyst for ABC Sports from 1972–1991.

From NBC Golf Commentator Jimmy Roberts, to PGA of America golf instructor and golf commentator Brian Crowell, the Master of Ceremonies; to executives who work in all fields of the golf industry, to media icon Jane Hanson, also an East End resident, the evening has become THE place to network and connect with leaders in the game.

And the awards dinner supports area caddie scholarship programs, the MGA Foundation, and the Dave Marr Sports Journalism Scholarship at Columbia University.

Golf — an exceptional sport with exceptional people!

Ann Liguori is a trailblazer in sports broadcasting. You can hear her “Talking Golf” show on Sundays, 7–8 a.m., on WFAN-NY, her “Sports Innerview” show on Saturdays, 7–8 a.m. on WLIW 88.3 FM, and her weekly podcasts on SI Golf/Morning Read. For more information on Liguori, visit annliguori.com.

Know an East End golf tourney winner we should write about? Send ideas to [email protected].

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