SCGA Hall of Fame Welcomes 13th Class of Inductees
October 29, 2019
The SCGA Hall of Fame inducted its 13th class Tuesday at Brookside GC in Pasadena in front of more than 200 guests. Brandie Burton, five-time Solheim Cup member and two-time LPGA Major Champion, and Joe Novak, an integral name within Bel-Air CC’s history, were honored and inducted into the prestigious hall of fame.
From the beginning of her career in the SoCal junior golf circuit to her success on the LPGA Tour, Burton set the bar high with no shortage of accolades.
Before graduating from Eisenhower HS in Rialto, CA, she was already the 1988 PGA National Champion, the 1989 U.S. Girl’s Junior Champion and a two-time winner of the San Diego Junior World Championships. With that resume, Burton proved to be Sun Devil material, joining the Arizona State University women’s golf team in the Fall of 1989.
As a freshman, Burton quickly rose to the top. She won six of her first seven tournaments, capped off by a Pac-10 title, an NCAA Team Championship and a No. 1 U.S. collegiate ranking. That season alone, Burton proved she could compete with the best in the world.
After participating on the U.S. Curtis Cup team and winning the North and South Women’s Amateur Championship in the summer of 1990, she would forgo her amateur status. With an aggressive mindset and distance off the tee, Burton was named LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1991 after eight top-10 finishes.
In 1993, the San Bernardino native cemented her legacy. Up against Hall of Famer Betsy King in a sudden-death playoff at the du Maurier Classic, Burton birdied the first playoff hole to defeat the six-time major winner for her first major victory. Burton would be named 1993 Golf World Female Player of the Year. At the same event in 1998, Burton defeated 10-time major winner Annika Sörenstam by one stroke to claim her second major title.
“I don’t speak much, I’d rather be hitting around a little white ball so pardon me for the waterworks,” said Burton as she humbly accepted the honor. “You don’t really think about these kinds of awards early in your career, but I have to thank my friends and family who were there for me back then and they are still here now.”
In all, she competed in five Solheim Cups, recorded 88 top-10 finishes and was inducted into the Rialto Hall of Fame in 2007 followed by the ASU Hall of Fame in 2008. Burton, who resides in La Verne, CA, was the youngest female golfer to surpass $1 million in career earnings.
“None of my achievements could have been possible without the SCGA so for that I thank you,” Burton said.
From cleaning golf clubs for $50 a month in the small mining town of Butte, Montana, to helping mold one of the premier private clubs in all of Southern California, Novak was the author of an extreme life arc.
In 1927, Novak pondered upon joining the year-old Bel-Air CC after working for a club in Spokane, Wash. He decided to take a leap of faith, and the marriage between Novak and the club progressed through his position as head club professional, battling through the nation’s more difficult times.
Novak was the glue to Bel-Air CC’s troubles during The Great Depression and World War II. He would meet with federal officials to seek solutions and prevent closure. Though his hard work and support for Bel-Air CC never stopped, he assumed a leadership position as the PGA of America President from 1949-1951. As the first president elected from the Pacific Coast, he was an ideal ambassador for golf professionals across the country. He was inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame in 2005.
To receive the induction on behalf of Novak was his son, Jay Novak.
“I really appreciate this honor – my father always wore a tie at the club so this is very fitting,” Novak explained after the unveiling of his father’s framed portrait. “I’m truly touched by this event. Bel-Air is very important to our family on a personal level and he would’ve been honored.”
Novak authored four books about golf. He also upstarted the Bel-Air CC award-winning newsletter “CHIPS” in 1929 and wrote it himself for 50 years until 1979.
Meanwhile, Novak always kept his own game in gear. 66 was his magic number, shooting it many times at Bel-Air CC and his past clubs. Prior to his tenure at Bel-Air CC, he won the 1925 NorCal Professional Championship and was runner-up in the California Professional Championship.
In 1962, Novak assumed the role of Bel-Air CC’s Director of Golf Emeritus. The annual Joe Novak Pro-Am tournament, which ran from 1971-1988, brought in many golf professionals from across the country to honor and pay their respects to Novak. Since 1989, the tournament has continued as a member event at Bel-Air CC.
Bel-Air CC recognized Novak’s 50 years of dedication to the club with a celebration in 1979, honoring his contributions through the decades. “Mr. Bel-Air” who passed away in 1982 at 83 years old, became an icon among the club and lives on till this day.